Baez busts out, homers twice as Chicago Cubs beat Tigers
A game like this always opens the debate: breakthrough or bad competition?
Javy Baez busted out of his hitting slump with a pair of home runs and the Cubs rolled to a 9-3 victory Monday night in Detroit. David Bote also went deep and collected 4 RBI.
So there were plenty of good signs, but, of course, the Tigers fell to 2-11 over their last 13 games. One big game against a struggling opponent doesn't mean the bats are back. But this does beat the alternative, as far as the Cubs are concerned.
"That homer to right, I think that's got to be a big weight lifted off his shoulders," Cubs manager David Ross said of Baez. "Listening to him come back in the dugout about how good that felt for him, I think it's a positive."
Baez hadn't homered since Aug. 1 and recently endured a run of 3-for-30 at the plate with 15 strikeouts. He connected in the fourth inning off Detroit reliever Tyler Alexander, putting one into the seats in right-center field. The second home run was to left field in the ninth inning.
"I have been struggling, but I don't stop working," Baez said. "I don't stop trying to get better. Today we finally got the result and had a really good game. We're going to fail a lot and there's a lot of pressure with this short season and all this stuff.
"I think when everybody struggles, you've got to let it out. You've got to get it out of you and turn the page."
Baez showed signs of life Sunday when he doubled ahead of Kyle Schwarber's 2-run homer that was the difference in a 2-1 victory over the White Sox.
"I let it go fast, with the help of my teammates keeping me up, keeping my head up," Baez said. "Sometimes you get so frustrated, I take it out different, but at the same time I'm always trying to let it go so I don't make errors. I think every player goes through it. This game is so hard."
On the mound, Alec Mills got off to a slow start, giving up some early hits. But he ended up pitching 7 innings with 3 earned runs and 7 strikeouts. In his previous start, Mills didn't last four innings and was hit hard in a loss to St. Louis.
"Early on, I thought I was pitching a little tentatively, I guess," Mills said. "Not a lot of strikes, not a lot of fastballs in the zone. After the third inning, just kind of had a talk with myself and had a talk with (pitching coach) Tommy (Hottovy) and Rossy and started throwing a lot more fastballs.
"Last start, didn't really have it. I wasn't able to throw a lot of pitches for strikes. Some mechanical things were a little off. Kind of reset in between and slowed myself down and made sure my direction was good to the plate. For me, today was good. I think I would call it a bounceback."
Detroit's starter was Casey Mize, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft out of Auburn. He made his big-league debut against the White Sox last week and is now 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA.
This victory was the 11,000th win in franchise history. The Cubs rank second in this category behind the New York/San Francisco Giants.
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