Davies, Cubs complete sweep of St. Louis
Most of the attention this weekend was focused on the rowdy fans at Wrigley Field, at 100% capacity for the first time in roughly 20 months.
But Sunday's player of the game tried his best to tune it all out.
Starting pitcher Zach Davies strives to pitch an emotionless game, focused only on the body language of the opposing hitter. It worked well as he led the Cubs to a 2-0 victory that completed a three-game sweep of St. Louis.
"Coming from no fans and only 20-25% at the beginning of this year -- it's definitely different," Davies said after the game. "Personally, I try to block it out as much as I possibly can.
"You still hear it a little bit, but the way I pitch is less emotion, less adrenaline, more focused on execution and trying to get guys off-balance. So the crowd, what it does for the team is a little bit different for me. I try to block everything out and try and stay within myself."
Davies pitched 6⅔ innings Sunday, after tossing 6 scoreless innings with 1 hit allowed in San Diego on Tuesday.
The low-velocity right-hander pitched into the seventh inning for the second time this season. He gave up a leadoff double to Dylan Carlson to open the seventh and Cubs manager David Ross let him stay in to face Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, and Davies got both to ground out. After walking Tyler O'Neill, Davies gave way to Ryan Tepera, who ended the inning.
"For me the biggest thing is just disguising the changeup and fastball," Davies said. "Being deceptive and seeing the way the hitters approach the at-bat, trying to read their swing and trying to see what they're trying to do in the at-bat gives me a little bit of an idea of what the next pitch is. Willson (Contreras) sees a lot of it too being behind the dish."
Davies was perfect through four innings. O'Neill collected the Cardinals' first hit with one out in the fifth, when he whistled a line drive that bounced off Patrick Wisdom's glove at third base. But Wisdom chased down the ball and threw out O'Neill trying to stretch it into a double.
The Cubs took advantage of an error to plate 2 runs in the bottom of the third. Eric Sogard led off the inning with a double against Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez and advanced to third on Sergio Alcantara's grounder to first. After Davies whiffed for the second out, Joc Pederson sent a ground ball to the right side, which shortstop Paul DeJong, playing the shift, couldn't snag as Sogard scored.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo followed with a pair of singles, sending Pederson around with the second run. The score never changed after the third inning and the teams combined to leave just 8 runners on base. So it's no wonder this game lasted less than 3 hours.
Based on the repeated crowd shots during the ESPN broadcast, it still left plenty of time for beer purchases.
"It was really nice to be home," Ross said. "I think the fans brought us a lot of energy. The atmosphere was amazing. So thankful that fans are back in the ballpark. I think it just showed in our energy and finding a way to win. It's nice."
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