What you saw from the Chicago Cubs during Saturday’s 4-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field is what you’re going to see the rest of the season.
Win or lose, the Cubs will be a collection of moving parts with players who don’t start every day needing to be ready.
And, unfortunately for the Cubs, injuries will continue to be a factor.
Amid all of the good things that happened for them Saturday, the Cubs lost catcher Willson Contreras to a hamstring injury as he broke from the batter’s box while hitting a flyout in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Contreras grabbed the back of his right leg and looked distraught as he headed to the clubhouse. Victor Caratini replaced Contreras, and he may have to carry the load for a while. The Cubs said Contreras will undergo and MRI on Monday to determine the severity of the injury. It’s a good bet catcher Taylor Davis will be at Wrigley Field on Sunday from Class AAA Iowa.
Now for the positive side of the ledger. Left-hander Cole Hamels came off the injured list and pitched 5 scoreless innings, giving up 4 hits while walking none and striking out six.
Albert Almora, one of those players who will be in and out of the starting lineup, hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh to break a 1-1 tie after the Brewers scored against the Cubs’ bullpen in the sixth. Almora contributed a sacrifice fly in the eighth, when the Cubs added 2 insurance runs.
“It’s not about me, it’s about winning a World Series and doing anything I can do to help,” said Almora, who has 12 homers, including 3 go-ahead homers this season.
The sacrifice fly was just as important, if not as flashy, as Almora’s line drive homer to the left-field basket.
“Get a ball in the air,” he said. “Let the ball travel. Try not to get too big. That’s really about it. I was just trying to get a ball in the air deep enough to score Tony (Anthony Rizzo), and luckily I did.”
Hamels had been on the injured list since suffering a strained left oblique June 28 at Cincinnati. The Cubs wanted 75 pitches out of him Saturday, and he gave them 74 over the 5 innings.
“I think just being able to get out there and get in a rhythm,” said Hamels, whose ERA dropped from 2.98 to 2.84. “The energy of the crowd always kind of helps get you going a little bit more, and just knowing this is an important series for us just to get back on the right track.
“I knew I was on a pitch count, and I knew I had to make them count. When you’re able to do that, you just try to not overdo it. If you’re able to do it long enough and get a few runs, everything works out in the end.”
A triple by Javier Baez and a wild pitch gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead against Gio Gonzalez in the second. The Brewers tied the game against recently acquired David Phelps in the sixth, but the rest of the bullpen did its job, with Rowan Wick earning the win, Kyle Ryan and Steve Cishek getting holds and Craig Kimbrel earning his ninth save.
The Cubs have won both games of this weekend series to improve to 59-51. Hamels said he likes the new blood that’s been injected into the team, including outfielder Nicholas Castellanos and several relievers.
“To get these guys kind of in the rhythm of what Wrigley’s all about and being a home player in front of this type of crowd against a good team, everybody is just participating,” he said. “That was a huge team win because I think almost everybody in the lineup got to play. It’s going to be something good leading into tomorrow.”