That’s a big one, folks. If that ball gets into the outfielder then it could be first and second with nobody out in the ninth. Cubs win, and a big reason is that catch right there. Bravo, Starlin Castro.
It’s only May 6th, feeling okay? This series has been a roller coaster of emotions, and tonight we can all breathe a little easier as the Cubs just barely hung on to beat the Cardinals 6-5. Both teams scored in alternating innings until the eighth when they both pushed across a run. Jon Lester didn’t do himself any favors as he made an error which led to an unearned run, which was not the only unearned run of the night. The Cardinals got two more after a two out error by Addison Russell, but Lester battled all night. The newest ace of the Cubs was able to work through seven strong innings before watching the bullpen shut the door, I wouldn’t say they slammed it, they shut it quietly. Nice to be out from under that losing streak, and the Cubs can now go for the split tomorrow afternoon.
At the Plate:
- Chris Coghlan was plugged into the two hole tonight, he did his job by getting on base, he didn’t have any hits but he walked twice.
- Anthony Rizzo is hunting down the MVP, he was 2-for-4 with his fifth dinger of the year, three RBI’s, and a run scored.
- Kris Bryant continues to produce, he was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI, and two runs scored.
- Jorge Soler seems to be coming out of his slump, he was 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win.
- Dexter Fowler, Starlin Castro, David Ross, and Addison Russell all chipped in with a hit.
On the Mound:
- Jon Lester was gritty tonight, he worked seven innings, giving up four runs, one earned, on seven hits while walking two, and striking out six.
- Pedro Strop had another shaky outing, he worked one inning, giving up one run on one hit while walking one.
- Hector Rondon walked the tightrope as well, he worked a scoreless ninth for his sixth save of the year. He surrendered one hit while walking one, and getting one huge strikeout.
The Cubs have all of a sudden found some clutch hitting, and that is leading to some exciting baseball, and wins on the Northside. One night after scoring four times with two outs, the Cubs pushed six across after two outs for good measure. Going back to Sunday the Cubs have had thirteen two out RBI’s, THIRTEEN. So it really is not a surprise that the Cubs have won four straight games, clutch is good, clutch is productive. Travis Wood didn’t need much help in this one as he picked up his second win of the season, he was stellar over seven innings. The Cubs will go for the sweep tomorrow night against Pittsburgh’s ace, Gerrit Cole.
At the Plate:
- Dexter Fowler is scorching hot right now, he went 3-for-4 with two RBI’s, and a stolen base.
- Kris Bryant came up with another big hit tonight, he was 1-for-4 with a walk, a stolen base, and an RBI.
- Starlin Castro, have a night, he was 3-for-5 with an RBI, a stolen base, and two runs scored.
- Junior Lake made a splash (heh) in his return, he was 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored.
- Welington Castillo, Chris Coghlan, and Addison Russell all had one hit in the win. Russell added an RBI, a walk, and a run scored.
On the Mound:
- Travis Wood got the start, and picked up his second win of the year. Wood worked seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits while walking none, and striking out nine.
- Zac Rosscup and Jason Motte each worked a scoreless inning to secure the win.
Fun fact, the Cubs had five stolen bases on the night, they now have twenty-five on the year, that leads all of baseball.
Well, that was fast, under two and a half hours roughly. Jason Hammel was outstanding tonight as he completely shut down the Pirates from the first pitch as the Cubs took the series opener, 4-0. Hammel went eight shutout innings, and was never really in trouble as he only allowed four base runners, all hits, no walks. The Cubs got their runs from likely sources, Anthony Rizzo drove in two runs as did Kris Bryant. All four runs were driven in with two outs, you can’t really measure how important those hits are. With the shutout win the Cubs have now won three straight, and have improved to 11-7 on the year, mighty impressive.
At the Plate:
- Dexter Fowler got things going from the lead-off spot again, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored.
- Jorge Soler broke out of his recent slump, he was 2-for-4 with a double, and a run scored.
- Anthony Rizzo continues to be a machine, he was 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
- Kris Bryant is racking up the RBI’s, he was 2-for-4 with two RBI’s in this one, and he has knocked in nine so far this year.
- Miguel Montero, Starlin Castro, and Addison Russell all had one hit in the win.
On the Mound:
- Hammel Time! Jason Hammel was stellar, he worked eight shutout innings, giving up four hits, he didn’t walk anybody, and struck out seven.
- Pedro Strop shut the door in an uneventful ninth, he worked a scoreless inning while striking out one.
The Cubs head to Cincinnati to continue their seven game road trip, and they have a sour taste in their mouth. Although a four game series split in Pittsburgh is all you can ask for, the Cubs feel that they should have won the series. While they should have closed that one out yesterday, they probably should have lost game two, so I’ll call it even. The Cubs bullpen is reeling however, and they will need some deep starts from their best pitchers in this series. The Reds come into this series feeling pretty good about themselves as they took three out of four against a crapshow of a Milwaukee team, and sit just a half game behind the Cubs for second place in the Central.
- Friday, April 24, 2015 – 6:10 PM CST – CSN Chicago
- Saturday, April 25, 2015 – 12:10 PM CST – ABC 7 Chicago
- Sunday, April 26, 2015 – 12:10 PM CST – WGN TV
- Game One: Jon Lester (0-2, 6.89) vs. Mike Leake (0-1, 3.92)
- Game Two: Jake Arrieta (2-1, 1.74) vs. Anthony DeSclafani (2-0, 0.86)
- Game Three: Travis Wood (1-1, 3.24) vs. Jason Marquis (1-1, 7.20)
Who is Hot:
- Reds: Zack Cozart is out of his mind right now, he’s putting up almost impossible numbers over his last seven games. Cozart is hitting .393 (11-for-25) with a double, FOUR dingers, and seven RBI’s, wut?
- Cubs: After a bumpy start, Starlin Castro has been scorching hot. In his last seven games Castro is hitting .387 (12-for-31) with one homer, and seven RBI’s, looks like a middle of the order guy.
Who is Not:
- Reds: It appears that Marlon Byrd is regressing to meet the levels of his Cubs career. Over his last six games he is hitting .095 (2-for-21) with one home run, and eight strikeouts.
- Cubs: The magic that Chris Coghlan had at the beginning of the season seems to be fleeting. In his last seven games he is hitting .150 (3-for-20) with one RBI, one walk, and seven strikeouts.
It’s noticeable, the Cubs don’t quit. After blowing a 4-2 lead in the sixth, and falling behind 8-5 in the 7th, the Cubs charged back, scoring four times over the final two innings to win 9-8. Trailing 8-6 in the ninth, the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs and Starlin Castro came through with his third hit of the evening to tie things up. Kris Bryant scored on a Welington Castillo ground out, and Hector Rondon shut the door, what an absolutely outstanding victory. With the win the Cubs have now won two games after trailing heading into the ninth, you know how many times that happened last year? Zero. Welcome to Chicago Cubs baseball, you should probably start watching.
At the Plate:
- Anthony Rizzo is an on base machine, he was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and he was hit by another pitch.
- Jorge Soler finished strong in this 0ne, he was 2-for-5 with a double, and two runs scored.
- Kris Bryant, just wow, he was 2-for-4 with a double, a walk, two RBI’s, and one run scored.
- Starlin Castro is shutting a lot of people up, he was 3-for-5 with a dinger, four RBI’s, and a run scored. He’s hitting .352 on the season.
- Welington Castillo got a start tonight, and he made it count, he was 2-for-5 with a homer, double, two RBI’s, and a run scored.
On the Mound:
- Travis Wood got the start tonight, and was decent, he worked five innings, giving up three runs on four hits while walking two, and striking out five.
- Brian Schlitter continued his rough 2015, he worked two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs on three hits while walking one.
- Phil Coke got out of Schlitter’s trouble, he retired the last batter of the sixth.
- Jason Motte struggled tonight, he worked one inning, giving up three runs on two hits while walking one.
- Edwin Jackson was perfect tonight, and he picked up the win, he worked a scoreless inning while striking out one.
- Hector Rondon was just disgusting tonight, he worked a scoreless ninth for his third save of the season.
Kris Bryant with an RBI double.
It was a rough start for the Cubs tonight as Jake Arrieta got knocked around in the first, but escaped only giving up one run, then he shut it down. Arrieta retired the next sixteen hitters on his way to a stellar seven inning performance to pick up his second win of the season. He doesn’t get that win without the exploits of the Cubs future, and well, present, in the middle of the order. After a double by Soler, and a walk by Rizzo, Kris Bryant crushed a two-run double, and ended up scoring on the same play to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead en route to a 5-2 victory.
Note: A fan was hit in the back of the head by a Starlin Castro‘s line drive foul ball. She was behind the protective screen, but was resting on the screen and the ball really smoked her. The result was a 23 minute on field delay, the update is that she was conscious and thanking the people helping here into the ambulance. Hopefully she’s okay.
Kris Bryant‘s Little League Homer.
Kris Bryant RBI single.
At the Plate:
- Hip hip, Jorge! Soler was a beast in this one, he went 4-for-5 with a double, and two runs scored.
- Anthony Rizzo was all over the bases, per usual. Rizzo went 2-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored.
- Kris Bryant had a rough debut, he’s been everything advertised since, he was 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, three RBI’s, and a run scored.
- Starlin Castro is getting lost in the hype train, but he is having an outstanding 2015, he was 2-for-4 in this one, and his now hitting .327 on the season.
On the Mound:
- Jake Arrieta with some more hot fire tonight, he worked seven strong innings, he gave up one run on four hits while striking out seven.
- Pedro Strop was spotless as usual, he worked a scoreless inning while striking out two.
- Rosscup came on to protect a four run lead, something the Cubs couldn’t do on Saturday, and he did just fine. He worked an inning, giving up one run on one hit while striking out one.
A popular narrative the last couple of years has the been the Cubs ability, or inability to take walks, or make contact. It was absolutely true, the Cubs were a team that would belt a dinger, but no one would be on base. When someone was on base, the Cubs just couldn’t make contact, it wasn’t hard to see why they were 26th in the Majors in runs scored last year. For the past few years the organization preached a “Cubs Way” that would see the team grind out at bats, make more contact, and be a general pain in the you know what for opposing pitchers. While it’s early, we are starting to see glimpses of what an offense built around the “Cubs Way” will look like.
The Cubs organization was definitely targeting guys this off-season that could help push the club in this new direction. What impresses me are the guys that were here last year have been so much better in their approach this year. Arismendy Alcantara is only hitting .091 on the season, but he has an OBP of .259, he’s walked five times already this year. We haven’t seen OBP numbers like this in what seems like forever, Chris Coghlan (.385), Jorge Soler (.382), Anthony Rizzo (.429), even Starlin Castro has contributed in this way (.364). These are the kind of numbers that turn solo home runs into two run shots to tie the game in the eighth, kind of like Soler on Monday Night. The importance of getting on base really can’t be understated, it really doesn’t matter how, just do it.
Let’s look at a comparison between 2014 and 2015, I know it’s a super small sample size, but the improvement in the numbers is striking.
Let’s extrapolate that out for a full 2015 season, the Cubs are on pace to walk 607 times, and strikeout 1,316 times. That would mean that the Cubs would have 165 more guys on base via the walk over the course of the season compared to last year. In regards to the strikeouts, the Cubs are on pace to strikeout 161 fewer times, that means those K’s turn into walks, or balls in play that the other team has to account for. You couple this kind of turnaround at the plate with a lineup that has some additional power in it (Kris Bryant), and the Cubs aren’t going to be 26th in the Majors in scoring for very long, and that should mean more victories on the Northside.