The San Diego Padres may have surprised most Cubs’ fans this past series by winning 2-of-3 from the Cubs but if you look a little further you’ll see they probably weren’t surprised themselves. We mentioned in our series preview that in their last three series before playing the Cubs, they split four games with the Mets and won 2-of-3 from both the Rockies and the Dodgers. They have been playing well lately and continued that trend against the red-hot Cubs.
The Cubs starting pitching once again did a great job in this series. Their overall ERA for the series was 2.61, which is right in line with their 2.67 ERA YTD. So far so good. Unfortunately, the bullpen didn’t fair nearly as well. They had a whopping combined ERA of 11.37…ouch!
In the first game Justin Grimm, who came on in the eighth inning, prompted loaded the bases. Adam Warren came in to stop the bleeding and instead he gave up a grand slam. It sucked but it didn’t end up hurting because the Cubs ended up winning by one run.
The second game, which was the first game of the doubleheader, was a different story. It did hurt. Kyle Hendricks was cruising along until he gave up a two-out single in the top of the seventh inning and was pulled for Pedro Strop. Strop came in and completely fell apart, giving up four runs without getting one out until he was replaced by Neil Ramirez.
Here are the pitching totals:
The Cubs’ offense in the series was pretty good with the exception of the final game. They scored twelve runs in the first two games but ran into solid pitching and a tough, soupy night at Wrigley, which made for tough hitting conditions. In fact, in that third game both teams combined for seven hits and one run, a home run by the Padres.
Here are the hitting totals:
|Tommy La Stella||5||0||1||0||0||0||.200||.200|
Ben Zobrist is continuing to light it up hitting .667 with a .727 OBP in the series…that’s impressive.
Addison Russell is also starting to come alive. He hit .571 with a .667 OBP. Great to see Addison starting to get in the mix. He started slowly, slashing .214/.341/.343 in the month of April but he’s slashing .361/.465/.528 so far in May. Nice improvement from him and I really think he’s going to have a big breakout season offensively this year.
John Lackey gets my nod as pitching MVP. He was spectacular allowing one run on three hits, no walks and seven strikeouts. In his last two outings he’s given up only three earned runs on nine hits, one walk and has stuck out eighteen batters. His YTD ERA is now 3.54.
Ben Zobrist, for the second straight series, is the offensive MVP. I have to admit, I really wondered what all the fuss was about when we signed Ben in the off-season. I hadn’t followed him much but heard that he was a guy who makes contact, gets clutch hits and is always on base. Without seeing it firsthand — the impact he can have on an opposing team — it’s hard to imagine. Not so hard anymore. He’s just one of those extremely valuable intangible guys who is just such a great, pure baseball player.
This was was a little hard to swallow but in the end a lot of things went really well. Starting pitching was excellent again and that’s a pretty good trend to see continue. Offensively, the Cubs were pretty good too. It wasn’t the offensive juggernaut we’re used to seeing but they did score twelve runs — four runs per game — it just wasn’t enough in a series where normally you’d expect it to be.
The bullpen — namely Grimm, Warren and Rondon — got rocked. It’s bound to happen throughout the year, as it does with every team. This time it just happened to occur in back-to-back games. It’s a bummer but it’s nothing to be overly concerned about. The trend from the bullpen has been pretty good so far this year and I expect them to come right back and pick up where they left off before the two bad innings they had in this series.