If this is the last week the Cubs championship core will be together at Wrigley Field, they’re going out with a bang.
Make that two bangs — or, as their former manager Joe Maddon might say: “Poom, poom.”
Back-to-back homers by Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo set the tone in the first inning for the Cubs’ 5-1 victory over the woeful Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
Observations with the heat turning up as the Cubs inch closer to Friday’s 3 p.m. trade deadline:
1. The sixth set of back-to-back home runs by the Cubs this year might have been the most poignant with trade candidates Bryant delivering a two-run shot to left after Willson Contreras’ leadoff walk, followed by an even longer homer to right.
2. Rizzo’s homer was the 240th as a Cub, putting him in sole possession of sixth place on the franchise’s all-time list, ahead of Aramis Ramirez. Next up: Ryne Sandberg at 282.
3. Starter Trevor Williams (4-2), who spent more than five weeks on the injured list after undergoing an appendectomy in May, turned in his longest, best start as a Cub, pitching one out deep into the seventh inning and giving up just five hits without a walk in the scoreless outing. He struck out six in his first victory in three tries since returning from the IL.
4. Trade watch: Stud setup man Ryan Tepera took over for Williams with two on in the seventh and escaped the jam by inducing a tapper in front of the plate from Nick Ahmed and a popup from Bryan Holaday to end the inning.
5. Drama interrupted: The Cubs loaded the bases for the championship-core top of the lineup in the bottom of the seventh but didn’t score after Contreras bounced into a fielder’s choice to the pitcher, Bryant struck out and Rizzo followed with a hard grounder that struck Contreras on the base path for the final out.
6. Happy returns: Infielder Davie Bote, who spent two months on the IL after dislocating his left shoulder in May, returned Sunday to slug a two-run homer in the fourth in his second at-bat. He added a leadoff walk in the near-miss seventh.
7. Trade watch II: Right-hander Dan Winkler entered the game in the eighth with two on and one out and, after issuing a walk to load the bases, pitched out of the jam by striking out cleanup hitter Kole Calhoun and inducing a routine grounder to short from Asdrubal Cabreras.
8. Scary moment: Javy Báez hit the bag at first awkwardly trying to beat out a grounder to short and fell to the ground favoring his left ankle or leg. He rolled over, sat up, waved off the trainer, walked back to the dugout and stayed in the game for the final half-inning
9. Trade watch III: Báez, by the way, added a sliding catch of a popup for the second out of the ninth. He finished 0-for-4 at the plate with two strikeouts.
10. Trade watch IV: Closer Craig Kimbrel, one of the most desirable players across the sport at this week’s trade deadline, warmed up in the eighth but wasn't used until Dillon Maples created a save situation by allowing a run and putting two on with two out in the ninth. Kimbrel got Pavin Smith to fly to right to end it for his 23rd save.
On deck: The Cubs open a four-game series against the Reds Monday at 7:05 p.m. with ace Kyle Hendricks (12-4, 3.61) facing LHP Wade Miley (8-4, 2.72), on Marquee and 670-AM.