Cubs

Observations: Alzolay sharp in one of best starts of season

Cubs
USA TODAY

Adbert Alzolay had one of his worst starts of the season last Sunday against the Nationals.

He bounced back Saturday against the White Sox with one of his best starts of the season, although the Cubs' offense was quiet in a 4-0 loss.

Here are 10 observations from Saturday’s Crosstown matchup.

1. Some tough luck led to a tough start for Alzolay. Cesar Hernández and Eloy Jiménez reached on softly hit infield singles in the first inning, before Yoán Moncada crushed a two-run double off the center field wall.

2. Alzolay settled in after that to throw 6 2/3 innings. He didn't allow any runs after the first and held the Sox to six hits — including a ball Ian Happ dropped that somehow was ruled a double.

Alzolay was 1/3 of an inning shy of tying his longest career start. It was his first start this season with zero walks and zero home runs allowed.

3. Lefties have crushed Alzolay this season (.284/.357/.665 entering Saturday), and the switch-hitting Moncada doubled from that side of the plate. But overall, he held them to a combined 4-for-15 afternoon, which doesn't include pitcher Carlos Rodón’s 0-for-2 day.

4. The Cubs will be monitoring Alzolay’s workload over the next two months. Saturday’s start bumped his innings total to 105 this season — 15 1/3 shy of his professional high in a single season (2016 in the minors). 

 

5. Two White Sox pitchers have struck out 10+ batters at Wrigley Field. Rodón did it for the second time in his career, striking out 11 in five-plus innings, before Tony La Russa went to his bullpen in the sixth.

6. It took José Abreu long enough to hit a home run this series. Abreu, who hit six home runs in six Crosstown games last season, went deep in the eighth.

7. This series hasn’t been short on late-inning drama. The Cubs and Sox have combined for six home runs through two games, and all have been in the eighth inning or later. Abreu went back-to-back with Cesar Hernández.

8. Trade returns: Former Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel, who surrendered a game-tying home run in the eighth in the series opener, struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth Saturday.

9. Trade returns II: Former Cubs setup man Ryan Tepera followed Kimbrel with a scoreless ninth in his first appearance since being traded late last month.

10. The Cubs are 2-6 since the trade deadline and 8-14 since the All-Star break.

On deck: The Cubs will try and avoid the sweep on Sunday Night Baseball. First pitch is 6:08 p.m. Zach Davies (6-8, 4.79 ERA) and Dylan Cease (8-6, 3.92 ERA) are the probable starters.

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