After splitting a four-game set in Pittsburgh last week, the Cubs swept both games in Cincinnati in a series shortened by a rain postponement on Saturday. The 11-inning 7-3 win on Friday night could end up being a huge turning point for the team, as a loss would've dropped the record to .500 at 8-8. Instead, the offense blew the game open while the bullpen shut the Reds down. With the Cubs heading back to Wrigley Field to kick off a three-game series against the Pirates, here are five quick thoughts:
1. This team has 10 wins already. Last year's 10th win came on May 2nd, bringing the team to 10-17. The Cubs haven't had 10 wins by April 26th since 2011, when the 10th win came in the 20th game on April 23rd to even the record at 10-10. It's nice to finally have an April that isn't a slow start that the team needs to overcome.
2. Addison Russell has 12 strikeouts and one huge hit. The kid is coming around, and even with six strikeouts in the two Cincinnati games, he came through with the bases-clearing double to make the difference in Sunday's 5-2 win. Eventually Russell and Jorge Soler will be hitting consistently, and this lineup will be even scarier.
3. Goodbye Brian Schlitter, hello Junior Lake! Contrary to what his awesome beard would lead you to believe, Schlitter is a miserable wreck on the mound in the Major Leagues. On the other hand, while Lake had a terrible season last year, he worked hard last fall, had a decent spring, and is hitting .289 at AAA Iowa. He'll be a great runner/hitter/fielder to bring in late in games. Great move all around.
4. Zac Rosscup and Gonzalez Germen have helped to stabilize the bullpen. The two combined to pitch 3.2 innings in Cincinnati, allowing two hits zero runs, while striking out six.
5. Can Dan Vogelbach play left field?? Forget everything I said in last week's post about the prospect race to LF. Vogelbach is crushing the ball at AA Tennessee, hitting .444 with three home runs, 13 RBIs, seven doubles, a .552 OBP, and an OPS of 1.293. If those Kris Bryant-like numbers aren't enough, he has 13 walks and only five strike outs. Unfortunately, Vogelbach has only played first base in the minors so far. Let's get him in the outfield!