Cubs-Indians Preview

BY foxsports • June 18, 2015

Those young players expected to lead the Chicago Cubs in the future continue to contribute to the club's success in the present.

Following impressive offensive performances from their three rookies, the Cubs look to sweep this two-game road series with the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night.

Kyle Schwarber went 4 for 5 with two RBIs in first career start, Kris Bryant hit a grand slam off outfielder David Murphy and Addison Russell added a two-run homer during Wednesday's 17-0 rout. Chicago (35-28) set season highs for runs and hits (18) after managing four hits during Tuesday's 6-0 home loss to Cleveland.

''They're going to keep getting better,'' manager Joe Maddon said. ''I'm telling you, man, that was a nice night. You get a glimpse of what it looks like when everybody's here.''

After striking out in his first career at-bat Tuesday, Schwarber began his evening with a RBI triple that ignited the Cubs' six-run second inning.

"It's easy when you have guys around you that are real accepting of you and want you to have success," said the Ohio native, who will be sent down to Triple-A Iowa after serving as the DH at Cleveland and Minnesota this week.

Bryant is batting .358 during his major league-leading 13-game hitting streak and Russell .345 in his last eight contests for a Cubs team that's won seven of 10.

Teammate Jason Hammel (5-2, 2.81 ERA) has allowed two or fewer earned runs in six of his last seven starts but his latest also was his least efficient during that stretch. Though half of the four runs he gave up were unearned, the right-hander yielded seven hits and matched a season high with three walks while throwing 103 pitches over five innings of Friday's 5-4, 10-inning loss to Cincinnati.

"I was just out of sync," Hammel, who equaled his shortest outing of 2015, told MLB's official website. "I wasn't on top of the baseball like I have been, and it cost me a lot of deep counts and basically I battled for five innings."

Hammel is 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA in four starts against the Indians, but last faced them in 2013.

After recording nine hits Tuesday, Cleveland (30-34) was held to four singles.

Chicago-area native Jason Kipnis had one of those hits to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. The second baseman is batting .393 in his last 42 contests and .483 (14 for 29) in eight interleague games this season.

The Indians used three pitchers a night earlier, then nine, including two position players Wednesday, after starter Shaun Marcum lasted two innings.

"Getting in that situation doesn't feel good,'' manager Terry Francona said.

He can use a lengthy effort from Danny Salazar (6-2, 3.54), who has a chance to complete at least seven innings in three straight starts for the first time during his three-year career. He yielded all of his runs over seven innings on a three-run homer to Miguel Cabrera in the sixth of Friday's 4-0 defeat at Detroit.

The right-hander has yielded two walks in his last two outings after issuing 10 in his previous three.

He could face Miguel Montero, who was scratched from Wednesday's lineup because of back stiffness. Three of the seven hits in Montero's last 19 at-bats have left the park.