Cubs Record: 13-4
W: Jon Lester (2-1)
L: Jon Moscot (0-1)
MVP: Jon Lester
So…. how about that for an encore? In the wake of a 16-0 win, the Cubs turned to Jon Lester to keep the good times rolling, and, once again, he delivered. Lester largely kept the Reds’ bats quiet, giving up five hits and only one earned run in 7 innings pitched as the Cubs eased to a 8-1 victory.
Lester also struck out four while lowering his season ERA to 1.98. This performance means that a Cubs starter has gone at least 6 innings in all but one start (Kyle Hendricks failed to do so on Wednesday). It’s outings like these that help save a bullpen later in a season. And keeping with the bullpen, Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm each delivered solid outings in the 8th and 9th, respectively, allowing only one baserunner between them.
The Cubs got on the board in the 2nd inning following David Ross’s sac fly to score Javier Baez, then extended their lead in the 4th behind Anthony Rizzo’s fifth home run on the season, his third in as many games. Later in the inning, David Ross and Jon Lester each executed sacrifice bunts to score Javier Baez and Addison Russell, respectively. In the 9th, the Cubs put the game to bed once and for all behind doubles from Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward, and Kris Bryant and a home run from Javier Baez.
The lone Cincinnati run came courtesy of a 6th inning Zack Cosart home run off Lester.
When this Cubs offense is humming, it is a sight to see and behold. Through Friday’s game, the Cubs’ run differential is +67, and they’ve done so with Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward hitting .194 and .208, respectively. Of course, that doesn’t tell the whole story, but it almost makes what the Cubs have done so far even more impressive.
On any given night, any man on this lineup seems poised to have a big performance. So far, Dexter Fowler has been a catalyst at the top of the lineup, and 6-RBI outbursts like the one Kris Bryant had on Thursday have garnered attention.
However, even depth guys such as David Ross and Matt Szczur have make marks. On Friday, Ross turned in two RBI, a day after he hit his first home run on the season. There may not be an easy out in the entire lineup (and that includes the pitching staff).
On nights like Friday, it’s really hard to pick out something that exactly went wrong, per se (without being too nitpicky). I mean, it’s a bummer that Jon Lester didn’t follow up Jake Arrieta’s no-no with one of his own, but Lester certainly had a stellar outing.
I guess if there’s one thing to really complain about, I guess it’s Addison Russell and Jason Heyward’s BABIP. For some time now, both Russell and Heyward have seemingly been afflicted by the curmudgeonly gods of baseball luck.
Throughout the Cardinals series, both of them had good rips at the plate, only to hit the ball right at a player. Of course, I expect both of them to start getting some hits to fall, but for now their good efforts have failed to deliver.
The Brennaman family beef with Cubs fans has been well documented, including, most notably, Marty’s infamous rant about the customary home run throwback in 2008. On Friday, Thom followed suit with a fiery hot take of his own, criticizing travelling Cubs fans for chanting “Let’s Go Cubbies” in a 7-1 game. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a doozy.
Brennaman closes his rant about the Cubs fans (featured below): “Enough already.” pic.twitter.com/9lPWyGp41W
— Zach Bernard (@ZachBernardFW) April 23, 2016
The Cubs will look to John Lackey to keep the pressure on Cincinnati at 6:10 PM Saturday evening. Lackey is coming off a strong start against the Cardinals, where he pitched 7.0 innings of shutout ball with 11 strikeouts.
For the Reds, former Cubs reclamation project Dan Straily will take the hill. Straily took a no-decision against the Rockies on Monday, pitching 5.0 innings with one earned run and four strikeouts.
If you’re in the Chicagoland area, the game will be aired on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.