Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber homered in back-to-back at bats in the top of the first inning this afternoon in Wrigley Field, as the Washington Nationals jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but the Chicago Cubs rallied against Nats’ starter Joe Ross, putting four runs (two earned) up with the starter on the mound over his 3 2⁄3 innings of work, and adding one in the fifth as the home team won their third game of the four-game set in the so-called friendly confines of their 107-year-old ballpark. Final Score: 5-2 Cubs.
Ross vs Chicago: Joe Ross bounced back from a rough start against the Cardinals in mid-April (8 H, 3 BB, 10 ER in 4 1⁄3 IP) with three strong outings (against the Mets, Braves, and Yankees), in which he gave up 13 hits, eight walks, and five earned runs in 16 1⁄3 IP.
So how would the 27-year-old right-hander respond to his last outing before today’s, which saw him give up eight hits, three walks, and eight earned runs in 4 IP against the D-backs in Chase Field?
“I think they just got the ball up and location, location, location with Joe today was just a little off,” manager Davey Martinez said of Ross’s struggles in Arizona.
“I thought his tempo was a little off today as well.”
Going up against the Cubs this afternoon in Wrigley Field, Ross took the mound with a 2-0 lead, and tossed a scoreless first on 18 pitches, but back-to-back hits (by David Bote and Nico Hoerner) started the second, and a sac fly (by Nick Martini) got the home team on the board, down 2-1.
Ross retired the first two batters in the third, but an error at third base by Starlin Castro, on a sharp ground ball off Javier Báez’s bat, extended the inning and Ian Happ came up and smoked a 2-2 changeup up and over the middle of the plate, hitting a two-run, go-ahead home run to right field, 3-2 Cubs.
A one-out walk and two-out single (by the opposing pitcher) in the fourth set the top of the Cubs’ order up with another RBI opportunity and Joc Pederson lined an RBI single to center to add to the lead, 4-2. That was it for Ross...
Joe Ross’s Line: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 78 P, 52 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
Williams vs Washington: Trevor Williams, a 2013 2nd Round pick by the Marlins, who was traded to the Pirates in 2015, and signed by the Cubs as a free agent this winter, has been shaky-ish so far in his first season in Chicago, with three runs or fewer allowed in six of his eight starts, while he’s struggled to go deep in his outings, with four of eight shorter than five innings, including each of his last three before today’s turn in the rotation.
Cubs’ skipper David Ross talked to the right-hander after he went just two innings last time out before today, giving up four hits, two walks, and three earned runs in a 42-pitch effort.
Ross assured Williams after that outing that he would stick with him in the rotation.
“I’ve got a ton of respect for Trevor,” Ross said, as quoted by NBC Sports Washington’s Maddie Lee.
“I gave him some managerial thoughts, I gave him some former catcher thoughts, and we had a really good conversation.”
Williams walked Trea Turner to start the series finale in Wrigley Field, then erased the first Nat to reach base on a double play off Juan Soto’s bat, but Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber got the Nationals on the board with back-to-back home runs off the right-hander to make it 2-0 early.
Bell hit a 1-0 changeup to left-center for his 5th of 2021, and Schwarber went full oppo for No. 7.
Williams held the Nationals to two runs through four, but Josh Harrison connected for a line drive double to left-center field in a pinch hit appearance to lead off the fifth, and with two out and Harrison still on second base, the Cubs went to the bullpen...
Trevor Williams’ Line: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 77 P, 48 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
Schwarber Picks Up Steam: Kyle Schwarber started the series finale in his former home on a nice run, going 8 for 26 (.308 AVG) with three home runs, seven RBIs, six walks, one steal, and four runs scored in his last seven games. Schwarber homered in the series opener, but went hitless (0 for 6, 3 BBs) in the second and third games of the four-game set, then he hit another home run this afternoon to get the Nationals out to an early lead.
Bullpen Action: Sam Clay came on in relief of Joe Ross with runners on first and second and two out in the Cubs’ fourth, and gave up a base-loading line drive single to right by Anthony Rizzo, but a grounder back to the mound by Javier Báez ended the threat. Still 4-2 Cubs.
Justin Steele took over for the Cubs with a runner on second and two out in the fifth, and walked Juan Soto to load the bases before the left-hander got Josh Bell looking to end the threat.
Ian Happ homered off Austin Voth to lead off the Cubs’ fifth and add to the club’s lead, 5-2.
An ROE and two singles in the Cubs’ sixth loaded the bases with one out, but Javier Báez sent a grounder to third to start an inning-ending 5-3 DP.
Ryan Tepera struck out the side in a 10-pitch seventh.
Kyle McGowin worked around a two-out walk in a 17-pitch bottom of the seventh.
Andrew Chafin retired the Nationals in order in a seven-pitch eighth.
Will Harris worked around a one-out single in the bottom of the eighth.
Craig Kimbrel came on looking for another save and gave up a one-out single by Starlin Castro before getting the second and third outs to end it.
Final Score: 5-2 Cubs
Nationals now 17-23