Cubs look to close series against chilly Rockies with sweep

The Cubs have dominated the visiting Colorado Rockies through the first two games of a cold and windy series at Wrigley Field, and Chicago will aim to complete the sweep on Wednesday night.

Despite temperatures dipping into the 30s in Chicago on Tuesday, the Cubs disposed of the Rockies 12-2, thanks to four home runs and an excellent start by pitcher Javier Assad.

In his first start of the season, the 26-year-old right-hander was dazzling in six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and one walk while striking out five Colorado batters.

“It was a well-pitched game for Javier, for sure,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. “He kept the pitch count under control. With his poise, he feels older than he is, more experienced than he is, and the pitch-maker in him kind of comes out.”

Assad didn’t need a big offensive output, but he got more than enough to work with.

The Cubs collected 14 hits, including home runs from Seiya Suzuki, Christopher Morel, Garrett Cooper and Cody Bellinger, on their way to the club’s highest run total of the young season.

Suzuki opened Chicago’s scoring with a two-run homer in the first inning, a shot that traveled 414 feet into the center-field bleachers.

“It was a windy, blustery day,” Counsell said. “And I think we hit some balls really good tonight. Certainly Seiya’s ball was as hard as I’ve seen a ball hit. That was really impressive. We just put good swings on the baseball all night and put pressure on them.”

Aiming for their fourth straight win, the Cubs and Counsell will hand the ball first to left-hander Luke Little — 0-0, 0.00 ERA in two games covering two innings this season — in what likely will be a bullpen game for the pitching staff on Wednesday. Little pitched a scoreless ninth inning Tuesday.

On the other side, the Rockies have gotten off to a forgettable start to the 2024 season, as they have dropped five of their first six games and three in a row while allowing an average of 8.2 runs per contest.

After finishing a franchise-worst 59-103 last season, the 1-5 mark this year ties them with the 2005 and 2008 Colorado teams for the worst start in Rockies history.

On Tuesday it was starter Kyle Freeland who got shelled for nine hits and seven earned runs in just 3 1/3 innings before being pulled by manager Bud Black.

After allowing 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Opening Day, Freeland’s ERA is a staggering 27.00 through two starts.

“Kyle is, hopefully, going to make 32 or 33 starts,” Black said. “It happens … It’s just magnified here with the first two (games). His stuff is fine, but a lot of pitches are sort of middleish, and (the Cubs) took advantage, and there were some bad counts, too.”

Hoping to start the turnaround for the Rockies is Wednesday’s scheduled starter, Cal Quantrill (0-1, 9.00 ERA), who gave up five runs in five innings to the Diamondbacks in the second game of the season.

In five career appearances against the Cubs, Quantrill is 1-2 with an 8.22 ERA.

–Field Level Media