Cubs killer Ozzie Albies struck late with a two-run homer which would be all the Braves needed to put this one away.
With the wind howling straight out to center field at the Friendly Confines tonight, the Cubs hosted the second of a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves. Cubs young right-hander Adbert Alzolay (1-0, 2.25 ERA) faced off against Max Fried (8-3, 4.03 ERA) for the Atlanta Braves. Both starters went deep into the ballgame and pitched very well.
In the top of the first, before fans had even gotten their peanuts and cracker jacks, Ronald Acuna Jr. took Alzolay deep on the first pitch of the ballgame to make it 1-0 Braves.
In the bottom of the second, the Cubs had a golden opportunity to strike when Max Fried walked the bases loaded. However, they let Fried right off the hook after shortstop Javier Baez got caught too far up the third base line and was picked off. Attempting to advance to third during a rundown, catcher Wilson Contreras was thrown out as well making it a rally-killing double play.
In the bottom of the fourth, Contreras came through with a double down the right-field line drive which plated Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the seventh with Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery on the mound, Cubs killer Ozzie Albies stepped into the box. On the very first pitch, he swung away and belted a two-run homer to put the Braves in front by a score of 3-2.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Cubs were threatening with a big inning. With two on and nobody out, former MVP Kris Bryant came to the bat, filling the fans at the park with hope. However, Bryant ended up grounding into an inning-killing double play. The Cubs were not without opportunity to score in this one, but they failed to capitalize on multiple chances with runners in scoring position.
Player of the Game
Although Alzolay gave up a leadoff blast, he pitched a very good game the rest of the way. This was his first career MLB start of many to come. The young righty went 4.2 innings and gave up only one hit, which was the leadoff home run to Ronald Acuna Jr. Along with a well-pitched game, Alzolay showed great poise on the mound and attacked hitters. He was shown taking handwritten notes every half inning in the Cubs dugout and looks to be a weapon that the Cubs can utilize for the remainder of the season.
Tomorrow night’s matchup is an intriguing one as newly acquired lefty Dallas Keuchel will make his first start of the season for the Braves. Keuchel sports a career 3.67 ERA to go along with a 76-64 record. Yu Darvish (2-3, 4.75 ERA) will take the bump for the Cubs. Darvish has been spotty overall this season, but he showed promise his last two starts. This should be a fun one to watch.
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