MIAMI — After his most prolific series of the season, Cubs shortstop Javy Baez was asked how much he liked hitting at Marlins Park.
“I’m seeing the ball good, no matter where it is,” he said. “Hopefully, we go back home, and I keep the same approach, and I see the ball the same way I did in this series.”
In other words, Diamondbacks pitchers: Fore!
Baez, who on Tuesday became the third Cubs shortstop in 60 years with three consecutive three-hit games, added two more in the 6-0 victory Wednesday against the Marlins, including his second homer in as many nights — the only player on either team to muscle one out in spacious Marlins Park those two games.
“I’ve been working on my timing since we started in spring training, and I think this is the hottest I’ve been this year,” he said. “I’m just trying to focus on keeping it that way and keep swinging at the pitches in the zone.”
His RBI single the opposite way to right in the Cubs’ four-run third was his 500th career hit. And because he took second on the throw — to the cutoff man — he was able to score on Jason Heyward’s ensuing single.
“Javy’s just a different animal, man,” manager Joe Maddon said.
His opposite-field homer in the eighth was his sixth of the season.
He’s on an 11-for-17 tear with six extra-base hits as the Cubs take a day off Thursday after the three-game sweep.
“He’s back in the middle; he’s not trying to pull everything,” Maddon said. “And when he’s there, he’s very dangerous.”
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Baez is off to a strong start for the second consecutive year after struggling in April earlier in his career. It led to his first All-Star appearance last year, and when he kept it up into the second half, it put him in the middle of the National League MVP race (finishing second to Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich).
It also helped compensate for early-season struggles by key hitters such as Anthony Rizzo.
Rizzo and Kris Bryant have struggled in the early going this time around. Baez and catcher Willson Contreras have been big reasons why the Cubs have been able to climb to one game of .500 after the team’s six-game skid the first week of the season.
“Hopefully, I just keep it going,” Baez said.
Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr., who was demoted to Class AAA Iowa on April 6, showed up for the I-Cubs’ doubleheader after a day off with a badly scraped-up pitching hand and was put on the seven-day minor-league injured list.
The team reported that Edwards slipped on stairs and was hurt bracing his fall with the right hand.
This and that
Infielder David Bote, who seemed to hurt his left side on a swing late in the game Tuesday, said he had no issues with it Wednesday.
“Just an awkward swing,” he said. “Nothing the rest of the day and nothing this morning, so all good.”
† Left-hander Mike Montgomery (lat strain) pitched two scoreless innings in his first minor-league rehab game for Class A South Bend, allowing one hit and striking out four without a walk.
He’s expected to make another rehab start in a few days and stretch to at least three innings.
The Cubs have not projected a timeline for his return yet.
† Left-hander Xavier Cedeno, who missed all of spring training because of a sprained left wrist, is scheduled for his first minor-league rehab appearance Thursday with Class AA Tennessee.