MLB: Diamondbacks looking to make history against Cubs
Only once in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 25-year history have they swept a road series from the Chicago Cubs, and they’ve never done it over a four-game set.
However, the Diamondbacks can accomplish the latter on Sunday while trying to hand the Cubs a fifth consecutive defeat.
Arizona entered this series on a season-high six-game losing streak, which began with two defeats to the Cubs in Phoenix.
Yet, the D-backs have regrouped to win three straight in differing fashions.
A three-run third inning led to Thursday’s 3-1 victory, then the Diamondbacks hit a season-high seven homers for a 10-6 win on Friday.
On Saturday, Arizona trailed 4-0 after six innings, but fought back to win 7-6 in 10 innings. Daulton Varsho’s third hit of the day in the 10th lined off the right-field wall, scoring two, and himself, via a Cubs’ throwing error.
The victory secured the Diamondbacks’ first winning series at Wrigley Field since 2017. Their lone sweep there came during a three-game set in 1999.
“It’s been a lot of fun to be around this group,” Varsho told the Diamondbacks’ official website. “A lot of energy. So, it’s been exciting.”
The Diamondbacks will try to complete the historic sweep against Chicago left-hander Wade Miley (1-0, 2.70 ERA).
The 35-year-old allowed three runs, five hits and walked five in his Chicago debut at San Diego on May 10. But he rebounded by tossing seven innings of one-hit ball, while striking out six without a walk, during Monday’s 9-0 home win over Pittsburgh.
“I was way more relaxed (Monday) and just having fun,” Miley told the Chicago Tribune. “You put a lot of pressure on yourself, and it’s hard to perform at a high level.”
Miley pitched his first four major league seasons (2011-14) in Arizona and won a career-high 16 games in 2012.
However, since leaving the Diamondbacks, Miley has faced his former team once — with Baltimore on Sept. 24, 2016, when he allowed one run, seven hits and struck out 11 over 8 2/3 innings.
He’s never faced Varsho, who is batting .368 with three home runs and 12 RBIs during a nine-game hitting streak against the Cubs.
Meanwhile, teammate Jack McCarthy, recalled from Triple-A Reno on Friday, is 5-for-9 with three RBIs in the last two games.
Scheduled Arizona starter Merrill Kelly (3-2, 3.27) will try to rebound after he allowed a career-high eight runs with five hits and four walks over two innings of a 12-3 road loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
Kelly, a right-hander, yielded eight combined earned runs in the seven starts before that.
“Either there’s something that I was doing really wrong, or maybe there was something I was doing that (the Dodgers) were picking up on,” Kelly told the club’s website. “You just flush it.”
Kelly is 2-1 with a 4.58 ERA against the Cubs, who have lost four straight after winning a season-high four in a row. Each defeat has come at home, where Chicago is 6-15.
Patrick Wisdom is 1-for-6 vs. Kelly, but he has homered in back-to-back games. Three of Wisdom’s eight homers this season have come against the Diamondbacks.
It’s possible Arizona will be minus infielder Josh Rojas, who homered three times Friday but suffered a hand contusion Saturday.
Meanwhile, Cubs star Willson Contreras is likely to be out after experiencing hamstring tightness on Saturday.
–Field Level Media