Red-hot Baez fuels Cubs' 7-run 6th, rout of Rox

April 21st, 2018

DENVER -- After staring down a potential fourth weather-induced postponement in a single week, the Cubs drove the clouds from Coors Field on Friday night. blasted four hits and drove in four runs, and the Cubs broke open a close game with a seven-run outburst in the sixth inning en route to a 16-5 win over the Rockies in the series opener.
Baez started the offense in the first frame with a two-run homer to right -- his sixth of the season. He singled in the third inning and doubled to left and scored in the Cubs' two-run fifth.
"I'm seeing the ball right when [the pitcher] releases it," Baez said of his recent tear that finds him hitting .400 (14-for-35) with three doubles, a triple, six homers, and 16 RBIs over his last eight games. "I'm not trying to go [opposite field], but a lot of hits are being hit that way. I'm just trying to stay to the middle, keep the same approach and keep doing my routine."

The Cubs followed his lead and batted around in the sixth, with the first six batters reaching base before the Rockies could record an out. led off with a single to right and followed with a triple to left-center. Pinch-hitter walked, and Albert Almora Jr. drove in a run with a bloop single to right. Baez's two-run single was followed by a double to center from and a two-out three-run homer from , his fourth of the season.

"When the whole group adopts a method, and they feed off one another, and they're capable ..." manager Joe Maddon said, interrupting himself as he analyzed the offensive outburst over the last two games. "... These guys have been to the World Series, they've won one, they've been in the NLCS every year, they know what's going on. But I've often talked about, the one area -- we have not had mature at-bats. We can't say we're inexperienced anymore. We have experience, but we're still young. We have to get rid of that youth involvement in the at-bat and we'll play some really nice baseball."
The Cubs' mature approach showed, with Maddon citing 13 of their 18 hits were to the opposite field, as they knocked out Rockies Opening Day starter in the sixth, leaving him with seven runs (five earned) on his line. They also knocked out in the same inning after tagging him for five runs on four hits and a walk.
Six Cubs -- Almora (4), Baez (4), Schwarber (3), Russell (2), Heyward (2) and Bryant (2) -- all had multihit games, with Almora and Baez going 8-for-12 with six runs and five RBIs from the top two spots in the lineup. Almora's four hits and four runs were career highs.
"We've all seen Javy at his potential," Almora said of his partner at the top of the order. "It's impressive, and I'm just glad that I could be on base for him or be on the top step when he comes back in after hitting a homer. That goes for everybody. We're just feeding off each other. And I'm having a lot of fun."

Cubs starter had a solid outing in hitters-friendly Coors Field, holding the Rockies to three runs on five hits over five innings. After the three-run first, he only let one Rockie -- Gray -- get to second base, as he walked none, hit one batter and struck out six before turning it over to Mike Montgomery, who pitched three innings of one-run ball.
"It was still a battle the whole way," Hendricks said. "Deep counts, a lot of pitches, able to get through it, I guess. You saw a lot from our lineup today, really. That's what won the game. They gave me two right away, I give three right back. For them to stay on those at-bats, come back and get that many runs for me, that was the ballgame."

The Cubs won a big replay review in a tied game when Baez was initially called out going from second to third on a grounder to short by Bryant in the fifth inning. Shortstop elected to throw to third, hoping could tag the lead runner. After the Cubs challenged, the call was overturned when it was determined Baez slid in safely just ahead of Arenado's tag.

Baez scored on a grounder to second by , and Bryant scored on Arenado's throwing error a batter later. The Cubs went ahead 5-3, and both runs were unearned.

"To be honest, I forgot K.B. was hitting; I thought it was Rizz," Baez said of his miscalculation on the defensive shift that would have been in place for Rizzo. "I thought the shortstop was behind the bag and saw the first hop was pretty high, and I went for it."
Gray singled to center to lead off the fifth, and DJ LeMahieu followed with a tough grounder up the middle. Russell got to the ball from short and flipped it to Baez, who made a nifty barehanded catch a split second before Gray slid into the bag, killing a potential rally in its tracks as Hendricks retired the next two batters to end the inning.
"His defense and baserunning skills are as good as it gets," Maddon said of the complete package Baez offers his club.

The Cubs scored a season-high 16 runs in the game. It's the most runs they've scored against the Rockies since scoring 17 on July 26, 1996, also at Coors Field.
"You can call us the Chicago Bulls right now. We play like every third day, maybe twice a week. We'd like to get back to a regular baseball schedule." -- Maddon, after three Cubs games were postponed by weather this week (and five in three weeks)
makes his fourth start of the season Saturday, facing and the Rockies in a 7:10 p.m. CT tilt. Darvish has never pitched at Coors Field before, but he faced the Rockies once in L.A. last year, throwing 4 1/3 innings and allowing five runs on five hits.