Castellanos helps power Tigers past Cubs
CHICAGO -- Pitcher Daniel Norris hit a two-run homer in his first professional at-bat and Nick Castellanos smacked a grand slam and a solo home run as the Tigers romped, 15-8, Wednesday night over the Cubs.
Rajai Davis and J.D. Martinez also homered for Detroit, which totaled 21 hits to complete a winning two-game trip to Wrigley Field. The Tigers banged out 40 hits -- 19 for extra bases -- in the two games.
"The offense showed up; we got a lot of hits," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "They've been good at-bats, they've driven the ball, they've come up with big hits with men on, and they kept tacking even when the Cubs were chasing us back."
Norris, who had zero at-bats in either the Major Leagues or Minors, became the first American League pitcher to hit a home run at Wrigley Field. He connected with two outs in the second off the Cubs' Jon Lester, one of five Detroit home runs in the game. But the Tigers lefty had to exit after 4 1/3 innings with a right oblique strain, and did not last long enough for the win.
"I'm just really happy it wasn't a three-game series," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "They hit the ball. Everything they hit was hard, far. We played pretty good offense ourselves."
Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber each homered for the Cubs, but it wasn't enough as they lost their third straight for the first time since July 24-26. With the loss, Chicago is now four games behind Pittsburgh in the National League Wild Card standings.
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He'll take two: Not to be outdone by his pitcher, Castellanos connected on two home runs of his own, including a grand slam in the third. The third baseman led off the second with a solo shot to right field before he hit his second-career grand slam to left in the third. His 12th and 13th home runs marked a career high, while they also marked his first multi-homer game.
Castellanos finished 4-for-5 on the night, adding two doubles to become the first Tiger since Ivan Rodriguez in June 2006 to have four extra-base hits. He collected a hit and two RBIs on Tuesday, and said that, as of late, he's been more effective at staying patient at the plate.
"With me, rarely do I ever struggle because my swing is bad," he said. "I struggle because I'm chasing pitches out of the zone.
"Baseball is a weird sport. I don't think there's any rhyme or reason, we just, as a team, saw the ball well today."
Pitchers who rake: Ausmus noted before the game that Norris could swing the bat well, but even he couldn't have predicted the lefty would hit with the power that he did. Norris' home run sailed to deep center at an estimated distance of 419 feet, according to Statcast™. He's the first pitcher to homer in his first at-bat since Tommy Milone did it in 2011. More >
"The first fastball he threw me for a strike, I looked back at [Cubs catcher David Ross] and said, 'Man, I thought that was in the dirt,'" Norris said. "Might've been senior night in high school or maybe summer ball that year [when I last hit]. Something like that."
Slow your roll: Lester served up seven runs on seven hits and three walks over 2 2/3 innings, his shortest outing since he went two innings April 17, 2012, while pitching for the Red Sox against the Rangers. The Cubs left-hander gave up three home runs for the first time this season, and was lifted after throwing 62 pitches. He'd been on a roll, entering the game with a 4-0 record and had given up eight runs over 35 1/3 innings in that stretch. The Tigers nearly matched that run total. Lester now has a career 6.05 ERA against Detroit.
"They've obviously been a thorn in my side for a long time," Lester said of the Tigers. "That being said, I've still got to figure out a way to get deeper in that game."
Hit machines: The Cubs and Tigers combined for eight home runs, the most at Wrigley Field since the Cubs and Padres hit eight on May 28, 2012. Both Bryant and Fowler were one hit shy of the cycle. Bryant totaled a career-high four hits, but could be seen wincing as he ran the bases. Maddon said that was because Bryant had fouled a pitch off his foot early in the game. Fowler is now 13-for-27 with eight runs, five doubles, a triple, two homers and five RBIs in his last seven games.
"If we're going to crawl back into this thing, we're going to have to win. We'll have to put some type of streak together. It doesn't hurt if you're playing teams that you're chasing or that are in the same race. We've got to win." Ausmus on his team's upcoming 11 games against teams with better records in the hunt for the American League Wild Card race.
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With his 10th home run, Schwarber now has 15 extra-base hits and may catch Bryant and Addison Russell before the season is over. Bryant and Russell each have at least 30, and they're the third Cubs rookie duo since 1990 to have each recorded at least 30 extra-base hits.
Tigers: The Tigers return home for a four-game series against the Rangers on Thursday when they send Alfredo Simon to the mound. Simon hopes to stop a three-game skid in which he allowed a combined 20 earned runs and eight walks, finishing 1-1 in that span. First pitch is scheduled for 7:08 p.m. ET.
Cubs: Jake Arrieta will try for his 12th straight quality start and fourth straight win on Thursday when the Cubs open a four-game series against the Braves. He beat them in Atlanta on July 19, giving up three hits over seven scoreless innings. The right-hander ranks among the National League leaders in innings pitched (162), ERA (2.39) and strikeouts (163). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.
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