Fri, 24 Sep 2021

Diamondbacks look to continue modest surge vs. Cubs

Field Level Media
25 Jul 2021, 21:40 GMT+10

The Arizona Diamondbacks seek to win a second consecutive series for the first time since April when they visit the Chicago Cubs on Sunday afternoon.

The clubs have split one-sided decisions to open the set, with backup catchers playing a dominant role.

Cubs catcher Robinson Chirinos providedmuch of the power in an 8-3 win on Friday, getting two home runs among three hits.

Chirinos was starting in place of Willson Contreras, who responded to the day off for rest with his 15th homer of the season in the Cubs' 7-3 loss on Saturday.

Contreras, who leads National League catchers in home runs, likely will make a second consecutive start on Sunday. Chirinos noted Friday he has no problem with that. He has no complaints about having a front-row seat at Wrigley Field.

"You always dream and see yourself here and doing good," Chirinos said. "It's just been an unbelievable time. I'm enjoying it since the first time I walked in the clubhouse."

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks' Daulton Varsho recorded a career-high three RBIs with a double and a homer in Friday's loss. He nearly duplicated his feat on Saturday with a single, a home run and three RBIs.

Varsho has been replacing Carson Kelly, who suffered a broken right wrist last month.

The Diamondbacks have won five of their past six, having beaten the Cubs in the series finale last Sunday at home before taking three straight from Pittsburgh.

The last time they won consecutive series came on the road in late April, when they swept three in a row from Cincinnati before taking two of three at Atlanta.

The Diamondbacks credit improved health for their recent surge. Asdrubal Cabrera returned from a hamstring strain with a key pinch-hit double Saturday, while reliever Tyler Clippard made his second consecutive impressive relief appearance following a stint on the injured list.

The 36-year-old Clippard, who feared his career might be over, has put himself on the map as a possible trade acquisition by a contender. He retired six of the seven batters he faced last week, with two strikeouts.

"Certainly, I was always going to do everything I could to get back, and I think that mindset and the work that I put in, it paid off," Clippard said. "I'm just more thankful than ever to be active and playing again."

Diamondbacks left-hander Caleb Smith (3-6, 4.38 ERA) and Cubs righty Trevor Williams (3-2, 5.68) are scheduled to duel in the series finale.

Smith is coming off his first win since April, throwing 6 2/3 innings against the Pirates on Monday. He is 0-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two career starts against the Cubs, including a no-decision for Miami in a 2019 loss at Wrigley Field in which he struck out a career-high 11 in 6 2/3 innings.

Williams, an Arizona State product, will face the Diamondbacks for the sixth time in his career. He has gone 1-3 with a 3.33 ERA in the first five meetings.

--Field Level Media

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