Cubs' kids are growing up fast

CHICAGO -- As the roster keeps getting younger, the play is getting more spirited, and while it is no guarantee the Chicago Cubs have moved past rock bottom and are now trending upward with their franchise overhaul, a better brand of baseball is clearly visible now.

The Cubs sucker-punched the Baltimore Orioles early, let nature cool off their opponents with a 3-hour-plus rain delay and then returned with more late rabbit punches to the midsection.

When it was over, Arismendy Alcantara had three hits, Javier Baez had a line-drive opposite-field home run to the basket in right field and Logan Watkins had two hits and two RBIs.

"Yeah, I think they're playing with a lot of confidence," manager Rick Renteria said. "The kids that have been joining us, like all young players they want to show you that they belong. So you have that going for you. But the skill set, they have the skill set, the variable to use and right now we've been able to get some decent at-bats and generate some offense.

"Javy lines it out to right, you have Watty driving balls into the gap. We have a lot of guys contributing right now. You talk about it and you have peaks and valleys in offenses but right now they seem to be picking each other up and doing a nice job."

Even the most complimentary offense doesn't work without pitching so there was Justin Grimm picking up the pieces after the long delay with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball. He improved to 4-2 while delivering his longest outing of the season.

Knocking off the American League East leaders for the second consecutive day was truly child's play with Grimm, Alcantara, Baez and Watkins playing such vital roles.

"It just shows you that we've kind of turned the corner," Grimm said. "We've been playing some good baseball lately, and it's been a lot of fun to be a part of."

Perhaps a newfound dose of confidence shouldn't be overlooked for a Cubs team that has won five of its last seven and 15 of its Past 26.

"That's a very good ballclub on that side and we get to see what it looks like," Renteria said. "More than anything, everybody knows that when you get good pitching, when you catch the ball, anything is possible. If you can generate some offense and get some timely hitting like they've been doing and just keep pushing, the factors they can control to play the game of baseball, they put themselves in a good position. Fortunately for us, the last couple of days it's worked out."

Chris Coghlan had five years of major-league experience before this season, so he doesn't necessarily qualify as part of the youth movement, but his three-run triple in the second inning gave the Cubs some positive vibes heading into the rain delay.

Coghlan has a team-high five triples, and although he has slipped a touch of late, he did just bat .348 in 39 games from June 28-Aug. 11.

"That's a dangerous team and they can put runs up on anybody," Coghlan said. "I think what it just shows is that we have the talent to win. I think that's why Baltimore wins so often and why they're so good is because of how consistent they are, and I think that's an area of growth that we could definitely use and I think we're starting to build that now and hopefully that can carry over to next year."