Jake Arrieta and the Cubs look to stay hot against the Mariners today, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.
Starting pitching matchup: Wade Miley (6-8, 5.23 ERA) vs. Jake Arrieta (12-4, 2.76 ERA)
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A little rain Friday couldn't dampen the Cubs' spirits as they welcomed the Seattle Mariners into town.
The Cubs offense rudely greeted their American League opponent en route to a 12-1 victory at Wrigley Field that included a 74-minute rain delay after the game was well in hand.
As the Cubs have gone through a little offensive lull over the last week or so, they've maintained they need to take what's given to them from opposing pitchers and try not to do too much.
They did that and a whole lot more Friday afternoon, giving the announced crowd of 40,951 fans a lot to stand up and cheer about all game.
"Just a really well-played game," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "We pitched well, we played well, we did everything well. After a really hard-fought series with the White Sox, it was kinda nice to play a game like that today."
Chris Coghlan — just activated off the disabled list Friday morning — got things started with a two-out, two-run single in the second inning and then came around to score on Kris Bryant's single.
Jason Heyward added a two-run homer in the fifth inning and the Cubs then touched up the Mariners bullpen for six runs in the sixth inning, including a three-run double from Anthony Rizzo and a solo homer from David Ross.
In all, the Cubs rapped out 14 hits and walked six times. Bryant led the way with three hits and a pair of walks.
"These days are great," Ben Zobrist said. "It's a mental breather for everybody. When you get up early in the game like that, you allow the pitcher to have some breathing room.
"... I think all across the board as a team, it's a real feel-good win."
It was all the offense starter Jon Lester needed, as he tossed six shutout innings with seven strikeouts for his 11th victory on the season.
"I felt actually a lot better than I have here recently," Lester said. "Still two pointless, useless walks out there. Still trying to clean that up for whatever reason.
"But at the end of the day, we win. That's what you want to do. Guys swung the bats really well. I try to always tell them: 12 runs and an airtight defense makes the pitcher's job a lot easier."
Lester even got in on the offensive onslaught, drawing a walk and scoring a run in that sixth inning explosion.
With the Cubs up big, Joe Maddon opted to take out Lester for the top of the seventh after 95 pitches, giving way to Justin Grimm and former Mariner Mike Montgomery for the final three innings.
The game got so out of hand, the Mariners brought in infielder Luis Sardinas to pitch the eighth inning (and he promptly retired Addison Russell, Heyward and Javy Baez in order).
The lopsided score also helps the Cubs' new bullpen, giving Aroldis Chapman, Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop the day off.
The Cubs have looked like a different team since the All-Star Break, with their starting rotation once again leading the National League in ERA (2.60) in the second half.
The Cubs also haven't lost a series since before the All-Star Break, taking two of three from the Rangers, Mets and Brewers before splitting a four-game set with the White Sox.
"I think to a certain degree, yes [we have gotten our mojo back since the break]," Zobrist said. "It gave us the rest that our staff needed to get back to the kind of staff that they are and our hitters — we've struggled a little bit coming out of the All-Star Game.
"But today was a good day to kinda bust through with a lot of runs early. Hopefully there's some more games like that to come."
As the new MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated this winter, count Cubs manager Joe Maddon among those who would be in favor of 27-man rosters.
Maddon and the Cubs had to make arguably the toughest roster call of the year Friday as they activated veteran Chris Coghlan from the disabled list and optioned Tommy La Stella to the minor leagues.
La Stella is not an everyday player, but performance has not been his issue at all, hitting .295 with an .846 OPS as a left-handed bat off the bench receiving spot starts at third and second base.
La Stella has also been effective lately, hitting .308 with a .419 on-base percentage in 32 plate appearances since returning from his own DL stint in early July.
"Honestly, it's just about rules," Maddon said of the move. "It's just getting Coghlan back. He was ready to come back. And Tommy had an option."
The option is really the biggest part, and the fact both Coghlan and La Stella are lefties.
The Cubs couldn't send Matt Szczur down because he is out of options and they didn't want to risk losing him to another organization. (Plus, he's a right-handed bat off the bench who is also performing well with a .759 OPS.)
The Cubs are currently carrying three catchers, but David Ross is a valuable presence in the clubhouse, Miguel Montero is a veteran and a two-time All Star and Willson Contreras is the backstop of the future and has also seen some time in the outfield.
Among the bullpen arms, Carl Edwards Jr. can be sent down to the minors with no issues, but he has a 1.84 ERA and 0.75 WHIP.
When it came down to it, La Stella was the only option for the Cubs if they wanted to bring back Coghlan.
"(La Stella did not take it) well. And he shouldn't take it well, honestly," Maddon said. "It's an unusual moment we're in right now where we have so many guys. This is definitely an advocacy for a 27- or 28-man roster.
"It's difficult. These are hard decisions. Guys are not gonna like 'em. I don't expect them to like 'em.
"I would not make up any kind of excuse or try to give (the media) any kind of reason other than the fact it was hard to do, (La Stella) didn't like it and again, it's part of the rules and how they are constructed in our game that kinda forces you into different moments."
Maddon said he doesn't expect La Stella to get over this move right away, suggesting it may take a few days before the 27-year-old can come to terms with it.
"The fact that he got it straight up matters," Maddon said. "And that's all you can do. There's no saying, 'You're not playing good enough; you're not hitting good enough.' You can't tell them that. It's not true.
"These are the rules. And in order to retain everybody that we want to, we had to do it this way."
Coghlan — who landed on the DL with a side/rib injury — said the Cubs told him earlier in the week that he would be activated on Friday if all continued to go well in his rehab stint but also said he did not know the corresponding move until reporters informed him in the clubhouse before Friday's game.
Coghlan felt he was ready to come back earlier than this, and his numbers in five rehab games back that up. He posted a .500 average and 1.369 OPS with Double-A Tennessee.
"You gotta get over some of those mental hurdles, but that was kinda done probably the first couple games," Coghlan said. "I had a check swing, kinda did all those things.
"I think it was just key to get some timing back. And obviously it's not the same caliber, but it's what you could get, so I was grateful for that time and (trying to) carry that over here."
The Cubs will have another tough call to make when Jorge Soler is activated from the disabled list, too.
Soler has played in six rehab games in his return from a hamstring injury but is just 2-for-19 in those contests, so the Cubs want him to work more on getting his timing back before activating him.