Cubs Observations: 3 runs off Andrew Chafin spark Diamondbacks

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Observations: Rare 3 runs off Chafin bury Cubs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

A year ago Saturday, the Cubs hosted the Brewers at Wrigley Field in front of no fans on Opening Day of the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season.

By the end of Saturday's game, the stands were all but empty — although only because of a one-hour, 39-minute rain delay that began in the middle of the inning.

The Cubs scored once after play resumed, but the Diamondbacks closed out a 7-3 win at Wrigley Field.

Here are 10 observations from the game.

1. If the Cubs were buying at the deadline, Merrill Kelly would have been a great fit. The Arizona starter tossed six innings and surrendered two runs, striking out six. Kelly allowed two runs through eight innings against the Cubs last Sunday, before he was charged with two more after exiting. 

2. In a showcase for opposing scouts in attendance, Andrew Chafin had one of his worst outings of the season, allowing three runs without getting an out in the seventh. He faced four batters, and they all reached, via two walks, an RBI single and RBI double.

3. Saturday’s appearance snapped Chafin’s 24 1/3-inning scoreless streak, which was the longest in MLB. He hadn’t given up an earned run since May 7; he hadn’t given up multiple since April 24 (two). The three earned runs allowed is tied for his season-high.

"He's been extremely valuable," Cubs manager David Ross said. "That's why he's in that situation, right spot. It just looked like he couldn't finish today. A lot of balls just short or down. 

"It was very uncharacteristic of him," Ross added. "He's been such a positive for us and a guy that we've leaned on to be in for almost every win we've gotten. Definitely not the norm for him."

4. Home plate umpire Pat Hoberg ejected Willson Contreras with two outs in the ninth, after Hoberg called a strike on Jason Heyward. Ross had to hold Contreras back.

"He's a passionate player," Ross said. "I love his passion. I've got thrown out of games too. That's just part of the game when you're upset.

"He probably has as good a feel as anybody when you're catching about where the strike zone has been all day, he’s hitting. Things like that can play into that."

5. Alec Mills limited Arizona to a two-run home run in his five innings, his seventh consecutive start allowing three earned runs or fewer. The right-hander, since becoming a regular in the rotation on June 15, has a 3.48 ERA in seven starts.

6. No pain, no gain? More like pain and no gain. Contreras’ throw to first base nailed Eduardo Escobar in the back in the fourth, following Escobar’s chopper in front of the plate. But Escobar was called out for interference in the baseline.

7. Contreras’ throw on that play was 91.6 mph. Mills’ fastest pitch on the afternoon was 89.7 mph.

8. New look, same Contreras. He rocked high socks for Saturday’ game, a rare sight from the Cubs backstop, and hit a solo home run — his 15th this season.

9. If Kris Bryant had heavy legs earlier this week in St. Louis, they’ve lightened up and look refreshed. Bryant legged out a standup triple in the fifth, also adding a single and a walk. He's reached base in five of eight plate appearances since returning to the lineup Friday.

10. Arizona scored seven or more runs 10 times in their first 28 games this season. Saturday was only the ninth time they've done so in 72 games since.

On deck: First pitch for Sunday's rubber match is 1:20. Cubs right-hander Trevor Williams (3-2, 5.68 ERA) and Arizona's Caleb Smith (3-6, 4.38 ERA) are the probable starters.

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