In the 1st inning yesterday, it looked like the Cubs’ offense was picking up where it left off from the previous couple games.
Dexter Fowler started things off with a 12-pitch at-bat, fowling off pitch after pitch before eventually striking out. Even though he was retired, Fowler set the stage by making Giants starter Jake Peavy work.
Kyle Schwarber worked a walk, and then singles by Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant gave the Cubs an early one-run lead.
Then in the 2nd, Jake Arrieta tripled and came home on an Addison Russell sacrifice fly. The offense was rolling again.
But that’s where it ended, as the Cubs only managed one hit over the remainder of the game. Luckily Jake Arrieta was dealing once again, and it didn’t matter.
Arrieta went 7.2 innings, giving up only four hits and striking out six. He has been outstanding again this season. Arrieta hasn’t given up more than three runs in a start since June 16, and has four starts in that span in which he gave up zero runs (including his last two starts).
Hector Rondon’s performance to close out the game in the 9th was really something special. After loading the bases with no one out, he struck out three Giants in a row to preserve the 2-0 lead.
Rondon is not exactly new to the closer’s role, but yesterday may have been his most pressure-packed appearance when it was all said and done. Facing the team the Cubs are battling for the wild card spot, with the bases loaded and no outs, with a sellout crowd at Wrigley going crazy.
He didn’t crack under the pressure. He dominated it.
The Cubs have now won 10 out of 11 games and own a 3.5-game lead on the second wild card spot over the Giants. A week ago, we looked at this past week and new it was going to be an important stretch, with series against the Pirates and Giants.
I’d say the Cubs more than held their own, and couldn’t have done much better, winning 5 out of 6. Next up comes two teams the Cubs should dominate: the Brewers and White Sox.
The Cubs have had issues with these let-down types of series. Let’s hope they can keep up their winning ways instead.
* Javier Baez is slumping a bit at Triple-A Iowa. He singled yesterday to end an 0-for-18 streak. The Cubs have said they aren’t in a hurry to bring him up to Chicago, and with this slump, I think a September call-up is looking more plausible. Barring an injury to one of the Cubs infielders, of course.
* One guy who’s not slumping is Tennessee Smokies outfielder Albert Almora. He had two hits yesterday (his fifth straight multi-hit game), including a double, and scored three runs. He also walked once. Almora, Theo Epstein’s first overall draft pick with the Cubs, has had an overall rough 2015 at the plate. But he should be an interesting player to watch next year and see how he progresses. He’s still only 21.
* Wrigley Field was evacuated after yesterday’s game due to a bomb threat. The media was ordered out of the press room but were allowed back in an hour later, after the police inspected the park and determined the threat wasn’t credible.
* Giants starter Jake Peavy and the Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber had a bit of a moment during yesterday’s game where the two were jawing at each other. Peavy’s explanation (typical-sounding Peavy):
Peavy said he wanted Schwarber to "get in the box like his other teammates did and not kick dirt around and listen to his intro song."
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) August 9, 2015