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Top takeaways from Cubs’ series win over Cardinals

The Cubs defeated the Cardinals 4-2 to split Wednesday’s doubleheader and take three games from their NL Central rivals.

The Cubs’ David Bote follows through on a two-run single against the Cardinals during the seventh inning of Game 2 Wednesday.
The Cubs’ David Bote follows through on a two-run single against the Cardinals during the seventh inning of Game 2 Wednesday.
David Banks/AP

The Cubs had to battle with five games over three days against the Cardinals. While they split Wednesday’s doubleheader, ending the day with a 4-2 win in Game 2, they managed to take three games against their NL Central rival.

Here are the top takeaways from the Cubs’ series victory over the Cardinals:

Bote loves Game 2

When the Cubs needed a big hit in each Game 2 of this week’s doubleheaders, infielder David Bote found himself at the plate both times with a chance to be the hero.

The Cubs’ utility man hit a game-winning, three-run blast in Game 2 of Monday’s doubleheader, and with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of Game 2 on Wednesday, the opportunity presented itself once again.

“You try to create that mentality throughout the entire game,” Bote said. “Each at-bat is an important at-bat. Each pitch is an important pitch. [Hitting coach Anthony Iapoce] always says, ‘Every at-bat is a life-changing at-bat,’ and you kinda have to approach it in that sense.”

Bote fell behind 0-2 to Giovanny Gallegos but got a fastball on the inner third of the plate and was able to punch a single up the middle to drive in a pair of runs, giving the Cubs the late lead and eventual 4-2 victory over the Cardinals.

“That’s a grueling three days right there,” he said. “But big series win, definitely.

“That’s a good way to go into the off-day.”

Alzolay shines in first start

Right-hander Adbert Alzolay was tasked with starting Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader and served as the team’s 29th man. In his first start of 2020, Alzolay didn’t disappoint.

“I thought Adbert looked really good,” manager David Ross said. “The arm looked super quick. You saw him keeping the hitters off-balance.”

The Cubs needed some length out of their young right-hander after Alec Mills allowed six runs in 3⅔ innings in Game 1’s 9-3 loss. Alzolay took the challenge head on.

He had to work hard to get through the first inning as the Cardinals made him throw 20 pitches before closing the frame. Things began to turn in his favor, and he gradually got stronger as the game went along.

Alzolay allowed just one run (unearned) on two hits over five innings while striking out six and walking one. He threw 70 pitches in the game and induced six swings-and-misses.

“Just working on my pitches,” Alzolay said of his work in South Bend. “I’ve been learning to control my two-seam, too, which is giving me a lot of good results lately. I feel like the work we have been putting in for the last five months is really paying off.”

Late success for middle of order

Javy Báez, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras aren’t seeing the results they want at the plate. The trio was a combined 6-for-39 (.154) over the five-game set against the Cardinals with a homer, 10 walks and 16 strikeouts.

But late at-bats from Schwarber and Contreras were two of Game 2’s biggest moments. Leading off the seventh inning, Schwarber singled the other way off southpaw Andrew Miller, and Contreras followed with a single of his own.

Both paid dividends two batters later when Schwarber and Contreras scored on Bote’s game-winning single.

“We continue to put the pressure on the defense,” Ross said. “Getting on base, you feel like that stuff’s gotta come through at some point. Somebody’s going to get a hit. These guys, they really do, they make you work and get them out.

“These guys want to do well. They know there’s a sense of urgency. I just think we’ve got some guys that are still going to get going, and then I think they’ll carry us when that starts to happen.”