While center fielder Albert Almora Jr. and second baseman Javy Baez appear to be taking positive steps as hitters, the progress hadn’t been as apparent for shortstop Addison Russell. Until Sunday, that is.
Russell had a triple, a single and a sacrifice fly in the Cubs’ 2-0 victory Sunday the Brewers. Both hits were to the opposite field, and the sixth-inning sacrifice fly that drove in the Cubs’ second run was well-hit, giving manager Joe Maddon reason for encouragement.
‘‘The ball’s going to start going in the seats when things warm up a little bit,’’ he said. ‘‘Love the approach. That’s what we’ve been preaching with him. He’s done a great job with it. It hasn’t manifested itself to the fullest yet, but it will.
‘‘In the meantime, he’s playing [well] on defense. The baserunning’s gotten better; the defense is always good. You can see the throws — I know you can see the throws from up top — they’re much stronger. I think he’s playing well. He’s just not hitting to his capabilities yet.’’
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Catcher Willson Contreras said he was happy to see Russell’s production.
‘‘He’s been a player who’s really special to this organization, and it was a matter of time until he started taking off,’’ Contreras said through a translator. ‘‘I just know he’s going to be a big part of this team moving forward.’’
As for Almora and Baez, both went 0-for-4 to end their twin 11-game hitting streaks.
Sunday was third baseman Kris Bryant’s second game back after missing four in the wake of being hit in the helmet by a pitch April 22 against the Rockies in Denver.
With the Rockies coming to Wrigley Field for a three-game series starting Monday, Maddon was asked if he expected anything to carry over from what happened to Bryant.
‘‘I don’t think so,’’ he said. ‘‘I don’t think anything was intentional. Right now, it’s been . . . the weather’s tough. Ball’s been a little bit slick. . . . It was just unfortunate. Stuff happens. I think you have to determine whether or not you thought something was real or not. For me, I don’t think anything was real. I just thought it was unfortunate.’’
Right-hander Tyler Chatwood, a career .215 hitter, appreciated the chance to contribute offensively with his RBI single in the fifth. It was his first hit with the Cubs.
‘‘That’s what the fun part is,’’ Chatwood said. ‘‘We have a chance to impact the game, as well, on the offensive side. Being able to have a chance to do it and coming through was nice.’’
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Closer Brandon Morrow threw a scoreless ninth for his seventh save in seven tries. Dating to last season, he hasn’t given up a run in 18 1/3 innings.
‘‘I’m still trying to find a little bit of feel with some of the off-speed stuff,’’ he said. ‘‘With the cold wind, it just takes any feel you have, kind of cuts it in half. Fastball’s still running all over the place. I’d like to kind of clean that up a little bit.
‘‘I’ve been in the zone and fighting to stay in there. It’s kind of been a battle, but [I’m] doing just enough.’’