From an 18th-round draft pick in 2012 to impact player on a title contending team, that is what David Bote has become over the last six years. Bote, who is filling in for an injured Kris Bryant, has performed rather well in his short major league stint. Over 29 games entering play on Tuesday, Bote was slashing .328/.419/.508 with two home runs and 11 RBI.
In addition to his solid body of work at the plate, Bote has played error-free baseball across three different positions (third base, second base and first base) so far this season. Of his 148 total defensive innings prior to play on Tuesday, 118 of them had come at the hot corner, the position Bote received the start at against the Kansas City Royals.
That start paid off for Joe Maddon and the Cubs as Bote drove in three runs, propelling the Cubs to a 5-0 victory.
While the sample size is rather small, just 61 at-bats, Bote has not displayed much ability to spray the ball around the entire field. Entering play, 25-year-old was sporting a 17.4 percent opposite field contact percentage while at the same time posting a 45.7 percent pull rate. That, combined with his solid 41.3 percent hard hit rate, means a lot of balls off Bote’s bat have been directed toward left field and the left-center field ally.
On Tuesday, however, that would not be the case. After Anthony Rizzo flied out to begin the ball game, the Cubs put two runners on with a Javier Baez single and Ben Zobrist double. With runners on first and second following a fielder’s choice, Bote stepped to the plate batting fifth.
With an RBI chance in front of him, Bote used the entire field, pumping a pitch from Royals’ starter Brad Keller over the head of the right fielder for a two-run, bases-clearing triple.
Just 30 games into his big league career, Bote had already logged five doubles and two home runs, but never a triple. With the aforementioned three-base hit in the top of the first inning on Tuesday, Bote recorded his 12th and 13th career RBI and first career triple.
After their outburst in the first frame, the Cubs’ offense went silent until the fifth inning. Those three innings highlighted the Cubs’ recent offensive struggles. Over the last 30 days, the Cubs owned a combined wRC+ of 102, a mark that ranked 13th in baseball. While that in itself is not terrible, the Cubs’ offense was sporting the sixth best wRC+ over the entirety of the 2018 season entering play on Tuesday.
Despite being held in check during the second through fourth innings, the Cubs’ offense tacked on in the top half of the fifth. Victor Caratini did his job, singling out of the nine-hole ahead of Rizzo who followed with a single of his own. That put runners on first and second for Baez who grounded into a fielder’s choice to first base, moving the runners to the corners. Zobrist then continued his bounce-back production after a down 2017 season by lifting a sac-fly into center field that put the Cubs up 3-0.
The Cubs’ third single of the inning came off the bat of Jason Heyward who blooped a ball into right field as Baez took off for second base. What resulted was yet another first and third situation, this time with the red-hot Bote stepping to the plate. Bote, who as mentioned above has not sprayed the ball to the opposite field much this season, did so once again on Tuesday, this time lining a single into right field that pushed the Cubs’ lead to 4-0.
After not getting much length out of their starters for much of the season, Mike Montgomery did his part to rest what some would consider an overworked bullpen. Entering play, the Cubs’ starting rotation had pitched the ninth fewest innings in the majors at 601 frames. That, in turn, has caused Chicago’s bullpen to eat the seventh most innings in the game so far this season. On Tuesday, however, Montgomery was able to take care of the club that drafted him, dominating the Royals in a strong outing.
Entering play, the southpaw had owned his former organization. Across 16.1 innings, Montgomery was sporting a 0.55 ERA with the lone run allowed coming on a solo home run. On Tuesday, the left-hander continued that solid body of work.
After allowing two men to reach in the first inning, one via a single and another on a free pass, Montgomery seemed to settle down, notching two strikeouts in the second inning. Montgomery would not be done there, striking out Hunter Dozier in the third before setting down the Royals in order in the fourth.
All told, Montgomery seemed to have good command of both his fastball and curveball while at the same time effectively mixing in his change-up as his primary strikeout pitch. What resulted was six-plus innings of solid work from the big left-hander. His final line looked like this: six-plus innings, five hits, zero earned runs, two walks and four strikeouts on 95 pitches.
Once the starters left the game, not much offense was produced on either side of the ball despite a mini-rally by the Royals in the home half of the seventh. A single given up by Montgomery before he was pulled was followed by a walk of the Royals’ eight-hole hitter by Carl Edwards. With two on and no one out, Edwards was able to wiggle out of the jam without allowing any damage, setting the Cubs up for a 5-0 win as Ian Happ tacked on a run in the eighth with a sac-fly of his own.
With the win, the Cubs improve to 66-47 while the Royals fall to 34-79 on the season.
Next Up For The Cubs
The Cubs will wrap-up their three-game set with the Royals on Wednesday, August 8 at 7:15 p.m. at Kauffman Stadium. Taking the ball for the Cubs will be Jose Quintana (10-7, 4.12 ERA). Quintana was much better in his last outing on August 3 against the San Diego Padres after giving up six earned runs on six hits over three innings in his start on July 28. In his most recent start, the southpaw tossed six innings, scattering four hits and one earned run. To go along with that, Quintana failed to walk a batter in a start for the first time this season while at the same time striking out six.
Opposing Quintana on Wednesday will be Heath Fillmyer (0-1, 3.86 ERA). Fillmyer has just four major league starts under his belt after making his major league debut on June 24. In those outings, the right-hander owns a 4.74 ERA and has allowed 21 hits and 10 walks over 19 innings of work.
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