Almora makes presence felt early after illness
A late add to Cubs' lineup, OF saves run with catch, belts first homer of season
CHICAGO -- Albert Almora Jr. was a late addition to the Cubs' lineup on Saturday, but he wasted no time in making manager Joe Maddon glad he was there, and he played an early role in Chicago's epic 14-10 comeback victory over the Braves.
With the Braves already leading, 1-0, in the first inning and starter Jose Quintana struggling, Almora -- who missed Friday's 4-0 loss to the Braves due to illness -- battled 24-mph winds and made a diving catch in center field on a Lane Adams fly ball. The catch saved at least one run and minimized the damage for both the Cubs and Quintana.
Almora then tied the game at 1 in the Cubs' first, when he lifted a solo home run into the left-field bleachers off of Braves starter Sean Newcomb. The homer was Almora's first of the year, and it turned out to be the Cubs' first run en route to their 14-run output, which included nine in the eighth inning.
"He did a nice job," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Maddon said Almora was "really, really not feeling good" on Friday before the skipper made the decision to use Almora at the start of the game Saturday as opposed to possibly using him later to ensure he would get at-bats against the lefty Newcomb.
Almora, who walked in his second at-bat and later scored on a Willson Contreras groundout in the third, was then intentionally taken out of the game as Saturday's dreary windy and rainy conditions continued.
"I was concerned that with the weather and everything else that it might start dragging him down a bit," Maddon said.