PHOENIX – Receiving bad news on the injury front is nothing new for the Cubs in 2018 – especially when it comes to pitchers.
More of that arrived on Tuesday, a few hours before the second of a three-game series against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Closer Brandon Morrow, who apperared near a return to the Cubs’ bullpen, instead was shutdown for the rest of the year.
Gone is the team’s leader in saves (22) and the man who the Cubs hoped would return sooner than later after a hamstring injury put Pedro Strop out through at least the end of the regular season. Call it another blow for Joe Maddon as he tries to hold off the Brewers in the NL Central and, if succesful, compete in the MLB playoffs.
Maybe the Cubs’ hitters understood that, so they took any worries about a closer out of the conversation after the bad news.
The Cubs scored five runs in the first two innings and with Mike Montgomery on his game on the mound, the Cubs cruised to a 9-1 victory on Tuesday night. Combined with Brewers’ loss to the Reds at Miller Park, the team’s Magic Number has been reduced to eight.
It’s the most runs the Cubs have scored since August 26th, when the also had nine against the Reds to finish off a four-game sweep at Wrigley Field.
It was a powerful start for the Cubs who got on the board thanks to Javier Baez’s 33 homer of the season in the first inning. A long double to left by Ian Happ was then followed by Daniel Murphy’s fifth homer with the team to make it 5-0.
After Arizona got a run, the Cubs blew the game open in the fifth. Anthony Rizzo’s two-run single made it 7-1, with a groundout by Willson Contreras and a sacrafice fly by Albert Almora Jr finishing the scoring for the nith later in the frame.
Montgomery and a pair of bullpen pitchers took care of the rest, as the starter allowed just the one run in sixth innings with eight strikeouts compared to just a walk. It was his longest appearance in a start since August 7th for his fifth win of the season. Alec Mills pitched two shutout innings and Brandon Kintzler one as the Cubs finished out another positive night in Arizona after a major negative earlier in the day.