The Chicago Cubs (40-19) continue to dip into their minor league pool and find sharks.
Albert Almora Jr. is the most recent.
That was the case on Tuesday night, when he drilled the first pitch he saw in the ninth inning into the left field alley. His first big league pinch hit, and a big one.
The 22-year-old defensive wizard’s hit drove in Addison Russell, who walked the previous at-bat.
The hit gave the Cubs a 4-3 lead after they saw an early 2-0 lead evaporate in the late innings after a few walks and some good situational hitting against relievers Travis Wood and Hector Rondon.
John Lackey (7-2, 2.66 ERA) was great again, giving up four hits, and surrendering two earned runs. He really worked the outer half of the strike zone well tonight and the Washington Nationals (40-25) weren’t able to make an adjustment.
Jason Heyward continues to trend upward.
His two-out single scored two runs in the third inning, after back-to-back hits by Lackey and Dexter Fowler. Cubs’ pitchers really rake, man.
Stats that mattered
- The Cubs left 13 men on base tonight, and still beat the second best team in the league. Enough said.
- Hector Rondon was asked to get five outs – which he did, after giving up the tying run. Hector hasn’t gotten tons of work this year. The Cubs simply blow too many teams out (run differential is +160). Their hitters take pride in taking him out of save situations, so to see him hold ground and get those five outs even after coughing it up speaks volumes.
- The Cubs made some stellar defensive plays tonight. Kris Bryant in the outfield and Javy Baez at third base, in particular. There aren’t stats for this, it’s just great to watch and is worth noting. The less base runners the better.
Gutsy win, man. When you let a team like the Nationals linger, you usually get burned. But these Cubs are just different. They’re relentless at all times. We’ve said it all year, the mentality mixed with the combination of pitching and athleticism on defense is scary. They continue to impress.
Big time test against the big right-hander Stephen Strasburg (10-0, 3.03), who hasn’t lost this year. The Cubs dodged him when the Nationals visited Wrigley roughly five weeks ago. Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.36) will take the hill, looking to solidify a significant series win for the Northsiders. Game starts at 3:05 CDT on WGN.