The Cubs held onto for a 5-4 victory today over the Cardinals in a game that saw HRs, HBPs, ejections, and a wonderful defensive play by Addison Russell.
The Cubs extended their winning streak to 5 games and are now just 5 games behind the Cardinals for 1st place in the Central and could be tied with the Pirates at the end of the night for the 1st Wild Card spot. The Giants lost today to the D-Backs and the Cubs’ magic number is now just 5 with 14 to play.
Jorge Soler made his first start since returning from his injured oblique and launched a solo HR (his 8th) in the LF bleachers. He also drew a walk and scored on an RBI double from Kris Bryant in the 1st inning.
Kris Bryant had himself a big day, going 2 for 3 with an RBI double (his 29th) and a solo HR (his 25th) in the 5th, going back-to-back with Soler. He also added a walk while raising his AVG to .275 and giving him a total of 95 RBI on the year. I think it is safe to say that he has locked up the Rookie of the Year award with these numbers.
Starlin Castro stayed hot, going 2 for 4 with an RBI single and his 5th stolen base. He is up to .259 and has 61 RBI for the year and appears to be poised to finish the year on a very high note.
Tommy La Stella added a pinch-hit RBI single in the 6th to give the Cubs their 5th run and the pen (though dicey at the end) made it hold up for the win.
Travis Wood and Trevor Cahill combined to pitch the first 6 innings of the game and held the Cardinals to 1 run (earned and charged to Wood) on 4 hits and 3 walks with 6 Ks between them. Cahill earned the win and has been really good since being recalled by the Cubs.
Fernando Rodney also pitched a clean inning of relief, striking out 1 but also hitting Kolten Wong (2nd time he was hit today), which set the stage for a very intense 9th inning after both benches were warned.
Addison Russell made an amazing play up the middle to end the 9th. He dove on a smashed ground ball up the middle and in one motion pretty much flipped the ball to Javier Baez at 2nd for the final out of what was all of a sudden a 5-4 game.
Hector Rondon came in to close down the 4-run win, but hit the first batter and was ejected along with Joe Maddon. Zac Rosscup was brought in next and was awful, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits (1 HR, which allowed a run to be charged to Rondon for his HBP). He didn’t retire a single hitter and was replaced by Pedro Strop, who was lights-out for his 3rd save.
Rosscup has had several chances to grab a role in the pen, but has failed to stay consistent and really can’t be a trusted part of this year’s unit.
The Cubs will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon at 1:20 PM (CST) in a game nationally televised on TBS. Jon Lester (10-10, 3.38) will get the start for the Cubs against Carlos Martinez (13-7, 3.02) for the Cardinals. Hopefully the HBP games can end before someone really gets hurt heading into postseason baseball.