The Chicago Cubs were looking to win their four-game series against the Washington Nationals at a balmy Wrigley Field Thursday. Good pitching and the heroics of Ian Happ earned Chicago the victory.
Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st. Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber hit back-to-back home runs off of starter Trevor Williams. Nick Martini, in for the injured Jason Heyward, hit a sacrifice fly in the 2nd to cut the Nationals lead to 2-1.
Happ put the Cubs ahead the next inning on a two-run basket shot that followed an error by Starlin Castro at third. Joc Pederson chased Nats starter Joe Ross from the game with a run-scoring single in the 4th.
Happ hit his second blast, a solo shot, in 5th to build the Cubs advantage to 5-2. Justin Steele, Ryan Tepera, and Andrew Chafin all pitched well out of the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the 9th to close out the win. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
The bullpen got a total of 13 outs on Thursday and nine of them came via the strikeout. The Nationals never seriously threatened late in the game.
Trevor Williams struck out Juan Soto swinging in the top of the 3rd inning. Trea Turner, who had singled earlier in the inning, broke for second and was thrown out by rookie catcher P.J. Higgins. The double-play killed a possible rally and set the Cubs up to take the lead in the bottom half of the inning.
Stats That Matter
- Williams was better than he’s been lately but still got pulled pretty early: 4.2 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 5 K, and 2 BB.
- Happ has found his power stroke with five homers since coming off the Injured List.
- Steele was terrific but, unfortunately, he had come out after tweaking his hamstring running the bases in the 6th.
That was a well-played series from the Cubs in all aspects. The pitching has been sharp and the offense productive. Now their biggest test looms against the first-place St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals series kicks off at 7:15pm CT Friday in St. Louis. Kyle Hendricks faces Carlos Martinez in a game airing on Marquee and 670 The Score. Those of you who’ve cut the cord can watch the game on fuboTV – you can check out a free trial of fuboTV here.