The Cubs had won seven of the eight games played before the off day on Monday. They had a clunker on Tuesday, and another clunker bookmarked the end of the week on Sunday. The Cubs ended up winning four of six games against the two teams from Penn’s Woods.
Kyle Hendricks ended up taking the losses in both games. The Phillies offense exploded for five runs in five innings against the young right-hander. He pitched better against the Pirates, but a mistake in the first plate appearance ended up hanging the second loss on Hendricks.
The rest of the Cubs starters managed to keep the opponents to a combined nine runs in the four game winning streak from Wednesday to Saturday. The highlight was Jon Lester‘s seven innings of one hit shutout ball on Saturday. Over half the runs were scored in Tyler Chatwood‘s start on Wednesday, but a dramatic ending signaed perhaps the return of Jason Heyward major league hitter.
The Cubs lineup struggled to score more than two runs in just half the games, but the Cubs managed to go 1-2 in those games. Kris Bryant played a couple games at leadoff and Javier Báez got a chance as well. Bryant and Heyward each hit .333 during the week. Bryant was walked three times, and that boosted his OBP .417. Heyward hit a home run and three doubles to slug .476 during that stretch. The Cubs picked up 1.5 games against the Brewers, and enter today’s matchup against Milwaukee down half a game.
Monday – Off Day
Day in a GIF:
Tuesday – Phillies 6 Cubs 1
Hendricks struggled in innings second and third. Aaron Altherr walked with one out and Nick Williams launched a ball into deep right field stands. The third run scored with a bases loaded walk in the third inning, and later an Altherr sacrifice fly and a Williams ground out gave the Phillies a 5-0 lead.
Zach Eflin pitched into the eighth inning. Bryant singled with two outs, and he scored on an Anthony Rizzo double. The Cubs wouldn’t get any closer as Randy Rosario gave up a rare run. A two out double from Carlos Santana and Altherr single extended the Phillies lead back to 6-1. The Cubs managed 10 base runners throughout the game, but couldn’t muster a big hit to get them back into the game.
Game in a GIF:
Wednesday- Cubs 7 Phillies 5
Jose Quintana pitched a solid five scoreless innings, while the Cubs scored three runs against Aaron Nola. Rizzo hit a solo home run in the second inning. Nola walked Bryant and Rizzo to start the fourth inning, and Willson Contreras singled to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. A Báez sacrifice fly pushed the lead to 3-0.
Quintana pitched well into the sixth inning. A leadoff walk to César Hernández was just the fourth base runner allowed by Quintana, but a Santana single ended Quintana’s evening despite just throwing 91 pitches. Steve Cishek entered yet another game, but an Altherr game-tying home run was a different from usual outcome.
The game remained tied at 3-3 heading into the top of the ninth. Brandon Morrow had an unusual start to the inning. Altherr hit a groundball single, and Dylan Cozens launched a deep home run to the left field stands. Morrow put another pair of runners on with one outs, and that was it for the Cubs usually dominant closer. Cory Mazzoni got two quick outs to give the Cubs one final chance down two runs.
An Albert Almora single was sandwiched around walks to Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ. Ben Zobrist hit a come-backer against reliever Adam Morgan that resulted in a force out at home for the second out. Heyward had to face the tough southpaw reliever as the Cubs final chance. But he worked the count to 3-2 and blasted a fastball out over the plate. The grand slam was the Cubs’ first walk off win of 2018.
Game in a GIF:
Thursday – Cubs 4 Phillies 3
It was another typical Chatwood outing, as the hard-throwing righty piled up another seven walks in just 4.2 innings pitched. But the Phillies only managed to score one run against the wild right hander. The Cubs broke the scoreless deadlock in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Rizzo launched a solo shot with one out.
The Cubs broke through against Nick Pivetta. Happ struck out in the first at bat, but Chris Gimenez singled back to the pitcher who threw the ball away. Brian Duensing drew a walk, and Almora singled to load the bases. Tommy La Stella and Bryant singled to drive in a pair of those runs, and a Rizzo lineout drove in the final Cubs run.
Jesmuel Valentín singled to start the sixth inning, and César Hernández reached on an error by La Stella meant two runners on with no outs against Duensing. Scott Kingery doubled to drive in the pair to cut the Cubs lead down to 4-3. Cishek, Justin Wilson, Pedro Strop and Morrow combined to throw 3.1 innings of shutout ball to close out the second win of the week.
Game in a GIF:
Friday – Cubs 3 Pirates 1
Mike Montgomery gave up a bloop hit to Josh Harrison and a strong groundball put runners on the corners with no outs to lead off the game. Montgomery was able to retire the next three Pirates hitters, but a Starling Marte fly ball made it a 1-0 lead for Pittsburgh. The lead wouldn’t last three batters as a Heyward double was sandwiched between Bryant and Zobrist singles. Rizzo hit a sacrifice fly to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead. Montgomery got a lot of weak contact as he threw five scoreless innings after the first inning.
Monty also scored the final run of the game, drawing a walk after Happ lined out to start the inning. Bryant and Heyward singled to load the bases, and Zobrist beat out the relay throw to let Monty’s run to count. Mazzoni, Rosario, and Strop pitched three scoreless innings to close out the third win.
Game in a GIF:
Saturday – Cubs 2 Pirates 0
Bryant was hit by a pitch was the first Cubs plate appearance, leading off the game. Heyward ripped a double to left-center, thanks to Marte falling down in the outfield. Zobrist drove in a run with his very productive out, and Rizzo hit a deep enough drive to score Heyward. But that would be it for the scoring in this game.
It is hard to write enough about the job Lester has done this season. He has bounced back from a sub-par season last year and has led the starting staff the way he has joined the Cubs in 2015. Lester pitched another scoreless seven innings in this game. This time, he only allowed a two-out triple in the third inning to Austin Meadows. Wilson and Cishek pitched clean innings to complete the one-hit shutout.
Game in a GIF:
Sunday – Pirates 7 Cubs 1
Hendricks had a Ground Hog’s Day experience to end the week. Harrison hit a home run to lead off the game, making it 1-0 immediately. But Hendricks pitched five scoreless innings after that first mistake. He was removed in the fifth inning for a pinch-hitter, and the Cubs bullpen blew up in the sixth inning. Five runs put the game out of reach.
Heyward scored the Cubs only run in the sixth inning, and the team couldn’t even muster a “fake rally.” The Pirates pushed it to 7-1 runs in the eighth inning. But did I mention that the Cubs picked up 1.5 games over the week?
Game in a GIF:
Top Pitcher of the Week: Jon Lester (7 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5 K, 2 BB, 1 H)
Top Hitter of the Week: Jason Heyward (21 PA, 1 HR, .333/.333/.524)
Cubs lose a frustrating game to the Brewers
The Cubs came into the their three-game set with the Brewers playing well, but they didn’t play so well on Monday night. Cole Hamels had another solid game, but the offense couldn’t hit Zach Davies in his return from the DL and several small errors doomed this game. The Cubs lost, 4-3. Sean Sears and I talked about that, today’s game, and a crucial decision by Kris Bryant on the last play of the game.
In the second segment, we talked more about Hamels vs. Davies and some comments from Hamels that were … interesting. In the final segment, we talked about the NL Central and cast our unofficial NL MVP ballots.
Javy Baez is having a special season
On today’s show, we’ll quickly go over the weekend games and highlight the excellent pitching from Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana this weekend. In the second segment, we’ll preview this week’s series with the Brewers and talk a little about Javier Baez‘s season and why it’s so special.
And finally, we’ll wrap the show taking a look at the NL Central and I have a few notes on new Cubs catcher Bobby Wilson.
Cubs win in Atlanta, but lose Jason Heyward to injury
The Cubs had a short layover in Atlanta on their way to Philadelphia, and they picked up a win against the Braves. Mike Montgomery was excellent for the first few innings but ran out of gas in the fifth, giving up four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings with six strikeouts. The Cubs’ bullpen — even Brandon Kintzler! — combined to shut the Braves down the rest of the way, and Chicago pulled off a 5-4 victory. Sean Sears and I talked about that in the first segment, then looked ahead at tonight’s game against the Phillies.
In the second segment, we talked about a variety of little topics: The Bobby Wilson trade, Kris Bryant, Terrence Gore, and Jason Heyward‘s hamstring injury. To finish things out, we talked about the NL Central and updated the standings. I even did some math to explain just how hot the Cardinals would have to finish the 2018 season to win the division.