Already assured of their sixth straight series victory, the National League Central-leading Chicago Cubs will try for a three-game sweep of the visiting San Diego Padres on Wednesday afternoon.
Chicago has won the first two games of the series behind the long ball, smacking two more home runs during a 4-3 victory Tuesday after connecting for five homers Monday.
“We’re playing really good baseball,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “We’re getting a lot of contributions from guys that have been called up and are stepping up in moments. That makes me extremely proud.”
Chicago third baseman Patrick Wisdom has been the latest recent addition to hit the ground running, homering three times over his past two games. Since being called up from Triple-A Iowa in late May to help fill the void left by various injuries, Wisdom is batting .474 (9-for-19) with four home runs and five RBIs in eight games.
Couple that with contributions from the usual suspects — including veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who had two hits Tuesday after missing six games with a back injury — and the Cubs are beaming with confidence following a sluggish start to the season.
“It feels great,” Chicago shortstop Javier Baez said. “We’re going to get the ups and downs during the season. And like I say, at one point, it’s going to click. The way that we are together in the ups and downs, [the ups are] going to be even longer.”
San Diego has lost three straight for the first time since April 19-21, and may be without shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., who left Tuesday’s game for precautionary reasons with right oblique tightness.
Right-hander Adbert Alzolay (3-4, 3.81 ERA) will look to keep the Cubs rolling as he makes his first career start against the Padres and second appearance against a foe from the NL West.
Alzolay has worked at least five innings in eight of his nine starts this season, and is coming off a victory against Cincinnati on Friday, when he scattered five hits, three walks and six strikeouts in 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
Righty Dinelson Lamet (1-0, 2.57) gets the call for the Padres. Lamet is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two career appearances against the Cubs with 15 strikeouts in 10 innings, but has not pitched at Wrigley Field.
Recently returned to the starting rotation, Lamet pitched into the fourth inning Friday in a no-decision at Houston, spacing two runs and five hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He has yielded just one home run in 14 innings covering six appearances (four starts) this season.
If Lamet is unable to pitch deep into the game, Padres manager Jayce Tingler has several dependable bullpen arms at his disposal.
Most recently, righty Pierce Johnson has led the relief corps, stringing together six straight scoreless appearances covering 4 1/3 innings while recording 10 strikeouts.
“I think I started throwing more strikes,” Johnson said. “At the beginning of the year I was a little erratic, not throwing in the zone, getting in hitters’ counts. Of late, I’ve gotten ahead in the count. That’s truly transformed everything. Thankfully, I’ve had a good breaking ball that is putting guys away.”
–Field Level Media