Cubs Record: 89-48 (1st in NL Central; 17 games ahead of STL; magic number is 10)
W: Kyle Hendricks (6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K)
L: Zach Davies (6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K)
MVP: The lefties in the lineup
Kyle Hendricks pitched well today and the Cubs’ bats came alive in the 7th to reduce their magic number to 10. The lefties in the lineup drove in and scored 4 runs (one of the runs scored due to an error, so Tommy La Stella wasn’t credited with an RBI).
The lefties also collected 5 of the Cubs’ 10 hits in the game, with Anthony Rizzo finishing as the only on without a hit. Rizzo did reach base on a hit by pitch in the 1st inning, though. Officially, Jason Heyward didn’t have a hit, either but he batted a ball in play that should be called scored as such.
This game was close until the 8th inning started and the Cubs’ bats exploded for 4 runs. Jake Buchanan made his debut for the Cubs in the bottom of the 9th, immediately giving up a solo shot to Ryan Braun. The newcomer didn’t give up any hits after that, and struck out Kirk Nieuwenhuis to record his first strike out. I’m intrigued by this guy and look forward to seeing him pitch more this month.
Kyle Hendricks was his normal, shut-down self today, pitching 6 strong innings of one-run ball and decreasing his ERA from 2.09 to 2.07. He only ran into real trouble in the 2nd, when he allowed three straight hits, the first of which was a Chris Carter solo shot.
Javier Baez made another of his ridiculously quick tags to get Kirk Nieuwenhuis out while he was sliding into second base on a steal attempt. Baez has one of the quickest, if not the quickest, pairs of hands in baseball.
Chris Coghlan came in to pinch hit for Kyle Hendricks in the top of the 7th inning with 2 outs and drove in Miguel Montero from second. Cogs ended up reaching second base on the throw to home. Tommy La Stella hit a grounder to Grown Man Named Scooter, who fielded and tumbled over, sending the ball soar into right field and allowing Coghlan to score. Coghlan would stay in the game and finished 2-for 2 with 3 RBI and that run.
Jorge Soler had a good day at the plate as well, going 2-for-3 with the tying run driven in and a walk. Miguel Montero continued his better play of late. In addition to throwing out Nieuwenhuis (with an assist from Baez), he reached base 4 times in 5 plate appearances, collecting 2 hits and getting hit by a pitch.
For some reason, Baez decided it would be a good idea to tag up from first on Montero’s fly out to Ryan Braun in left. Braun wasn’t terribly deep and had settled comfortably under the ball, which makes the decision to tag up even more questionable. These are things we should expect from Javy, unfortunately, because that’s just how he plays the game. He can be a risk-taker and some times he gets burned.
The Brewers bullpen gave up 4 runs (3 earned) in the 8th inning, which allowed the Cubs to win the game comfortably.
Tomorrow at 7:10pm CT, Jason Hammel (14-7, 3.14 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) will face Wily Peralta (5-9, 5.53 ERA, 1.65 WHIP) as the Cubs look to drop that magic number further and win the second game of the series. The last time Hammel faced the Brewers he pitched 7 strong innings and got the win while giving up no runs. The Cubs have yet to face Peralta this season.