Cubs record: 70-41, 1st NL Central, (12.0 games up)
W: John Lackey
L: Jered Weaver
MVP: John Lackey
Eight in a row! John Lackey took the mound for the Cubs against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, but couldn’t leave the 1st inning with the lead after Kole Calhoun launched one 372 feet with one out.
Not much happened after that until Willson Contreras blasted a 417-foot homer off Weaver to tie the game off in the bottom of the 3rd. It was his first dinger since July 4, so hopefully this will open the floodgates for the young slugger.
In the bottom of the 4th, Rizzo led off with a double. Zobrist couldn’t let him have all the fun, so he smacked one of his own to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. Jorge Soler joined the party with a single and our boys were in business with men on first and third with no outs. Jason Heyward popped up, but Addison Russel hit a sac fly to plate Zo for the Cubs’ third run. Contreras lined out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Cubs kept the scoring going with a two-out home run by Kris Bryant. They weren’t done, as Rizzo would then double, Zobrist would walk, and Soler would reach on an infield single that saw Rizzo score on a throwing error. That was all they would get, but it was more than they’d need as the Cubs would go on to win 5-1.
Lackey has statistically been the Cubs worst pitcher of late, but he was feeling it in this one against the ninth-ranked offense in the game. Five, five, four, three, one and three are the number of earned runs allowed in his last six starts, so it looks like he has turned it around after stringing together four quality starts in a row, counting tonight.
In this one, he gave up three hits and one walk while striking out six over eight innings of work and holding Mike Trout to an 0-4 night. Phenomenal job by Lackey to get the Cubs their eighth win in a row.
Despite swiping 17 bags in 2015, Rizzo hasn’t had nearly the same kind of success this season. That didn’t stop him from taking off in the 1st inning with two outs on the first pitch to Ben Zobrist. He was thrown out easily, bringing his 2016 net-total to a less-than-stellar -1. This is really nitpicking here, but it was noticeable in the early going of this game.
Nothing ugly in this one.
Jason Hammel returns from the bereavement list to take on Ricky Nolasco in the finale of this two-game series at Wrigley Field Wednesday night at 7:05 CST. Don’t look now, but “Second-Half Hammel” is crushing it as of late. In six of his last seven starts, he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs and is on the verge of getting his ERA under 3.00 on the season. Take out his ugly 10-earned-run start on July 1 and he is having an excellent year on the whole. Nolasco has a 3.00 ERA over 27 innings pitched at Wrigley Field, but he carries a 5.23 ERA on the season with a 1.33 WHIP. The Cubs will look to take advantage and extend their winning streak to nine games in a row.