The final score was a modest 7-3, but Monday’s Rockies-Cubs game at Wrigley, won by Chicago, was the first in five years to include three multi-homer performances.
The Cubs’ Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez and the Rockies’ Carlos Gonzalez all went deep twice in the contest. Gonzalez led off the top of the first with his homer and later ended winning pitcher Matt Garza’s afternoon with another solo shot in the eighth.
Ramirez and Pena, despite batting back-to-back in the orders, never did go back-to-back in the game. Ramirez homered in the first and seventh, while Pena hit his in the fourth and fifth innings.
Today’s outcome was fueled by a modest breeze out to left at Wrigley Field. Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin, who had allowed a total of three runs in four starts this month, gave up three homers for the first time in his career.
The last such game with three multihomer guys took place on July 14, 2006, at Petco Park of all places. The Braves beat the Padres 15-12 in that one, with Adam LaRoche, Chipper Jones and Adrian Gonzalez all going deep twice.
The last game to have four different players hit multiple homers took place at a much more likely location, Coors Field, on Aug. 14, 1999. Dante Bichette, Todd Helton and Edgard Clemente all homered twice for the Rockies, while the Expos got two homers from Geoff Blum. The Rockies won that one 11-8.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”