Cubs open Rockies series with win, powered by double-digit hits

Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel hit his first home run of the season.

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Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel hits an RBI-single off Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland in the first inning Thursday.

Cubs first baseman Frank Schwindel hits an RBI-single off Rockies starting pitcher Kyle Freeland in the first inning Thursday.

AP Photos

DENVER — Coors Field is known for home runs. But the Cubs didn’t rely on the long ball to beat the Rockies 5-2 on Thursday.

They matched their season high with 10 hits.

The trend started in the first inning, as Nick Madrigal, Jonathan Villar and Frank Schwindel hit back-to-back-to-back singles. Seiya Suzuki extended that string of base hits with a double, and the Cubs took a 3-0 lead. With Yan Gomes following with a single, the Cubs recorded five straight hits in the inning.

Schwindel was the only Cub with a homer. The Rockies rallied for two runs in the fifth inning, but Schwindel led off the sixth with his first home run and first extra-base hit of the season.

“When I’m rolling, I feel like I can barrel anything no matter where it is,” he said. “Doesn’t matter location, what pitch, it’s going to get hit somewhere. So, just going to try and get that timing down and keep working, keep working in the cage, and go from there.”

Bryant reunion

Not many of Kris Bryant’s former Cubs teammates were in the opposite dugout Thursday night. But manager David Ross had plenty of stories to share from their time playing together.

“One of the cool things, in 2015 he was in spring training and had all the hype of all the home runs he hit,” Ross recalled. “And we’re in the training room one day, and I asked him how many home runs he had last year.”

In 2014, Bryant recorded 43 home runs in Double-A and Triple-A combined. So he gave Ross that number.

“Not in the show, you didn’t,” Ross said.

Ross retired from playing baseball after the Cubs’ 2016 championship season. He had 106 career home runs. In 2018, Bryant passed that mark

“He made sure that I got a text,” Ross said. “. . . He let me know he had passed me and I was never catching him again.”

Steele makes second start

Justin Steele’s first start of the 2021 season was hard to follow up. He threw five shutout innings against the Brewers over the weekend. His pristine ERA didn’t last through Thursday, but Ross dubbed the start, “one of the best outings I’ve seen him have.”

“We probably cost him probably a good 20 pitches, I would say, Ross said. So, that’s a couple more innings, probably could have got him into the seventh if we’d played a little better behind him. But really nice outing for him.”

Steele still hadn’t given up a run when he exited the game with one out in the fifth inning. But heput two runners on, with a single and a walk. That brought his total up to five hits and two walks.

Rookie Ethan Roberts, who also had yet to give up a run this season, replaced Steele. But he ran into problems almost immediately. A couple line drives and a couple walks later, the Rockies had cut the lead to 3-2. Both runs were charged to Steele.

Injury update

The three Cubs on the 10-day injured list continue to make progress, but there is no timeline for their returns.

Right-hander Alec Mills (low back strain) is scheduled to throw a bullpen on Saturday. Left-hander Wade Miley (left elbow inflammation) was set to throw long toss at 120 feet on Thursday. The next step in his progression will be to throw off a mound, as long as a couple sessions at 120 feet go well. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons (right shoulder inflammation) is still on a throwing program.

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