CHICAGO – No matter what happened in 2019 or what may transpire down the road in 2020, the love for the Cubs’ leadoff hitter Tuesday night will always be there from the fans.
Remember that World Series three years ago and his contributions to it? That will likely make Ben Zobrist a favorite for years to come.
So when he returned after missing just under four months while on personal leave following his divorce from wife Julianna, fans at Wrigley Field greeted him with very open arms.
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As he led off the first inning, Zobrist walked to the plate and was greeted by a standing ovation from the fans. It was his first at-bat since May 6th, as he went on personal leave a few days later and only returned to the Cubs this weekend.
Yet his return to the lineup was not the only one for the home team on this night, as catcher Willson Contreras returned from a month-long stay on the IL to make his own contribution to a solid night for the Cubs.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 4, 2019
Contreras hit his 20th homer to get the team on the board – one of two hits on the night – as the Cubs beat the Mariners to complete a quick two-game sweep in the interleague series.
Zobrist, meanwhile, scored a pair of runs while getting a walk along with a fifth-inning bunt hit that started the team’s best frame. After Zobrist’s hit, the Cubs would get another runner on base for Nick Castellanos, who slammed a three-run homer into the right field seats to make it 5-0.
Having the pair back in the lineup was certainly a spiritual boost for the club along with their contributions to the game. Each have played a major role in the team’s success the previous three playoff seasons and having them out left some voids.
With them back, some of them were filled according to Jon Lester, who threw six scoreless innings to Contreras on Tuesday.
“Anytime you have the experience that ‘Zo’ does to out lineup…not only to our lineup but to our clubhouse. It’s only going to help us. You saw him tonight get right back into the thick of things with a nice bunt hit,” said Lester. “Obviously ‘Willy’ contributing in his first at-bat with a homer and a good ‘A-Bs’ later in the game.
“Yeah, you add those guys; you’ve missed them for a while, and you add them back, it’s kinda like that boost, that shot in the arm.”
One that’s always needed when going down to the wire for the playoffs in the final weeks of the season.