Even though the rain shortened the series by one game, we still have to consider that a sweep. It just makes me want the first full series sweep that much more. It’s like that time I saw a concert at Fenway. It’s the only time I’ve been there but it was a concert and not a game. So, I guess I can say I’ve been there but I’ll feel better about it when I finally see a game there. I digress.
The Cubs’ starting pitching, once again, was in top form. Kyle Hendricks and Jake Arreita both gave up one run in their outings and both were pulled after five innings for pinch hitters.
The bullpen was pretty good too with the exception of Pedro Strop in game one and Neil Ramirez in game two. Both were wild and neither had good control of their pitches in those particular outings.
Ramirez was brought in for the ninth inning yesterday with the Cubs up 7-1, so the fact that he was wild and gave up a double, a wild pitch and a run was not an issue in the game. He’s been good in his first few outings this year but has given up two runs and one run in his last two games. I’m not worried yet, but if he struggles again I may start to be concerned about his ability to hold leads if he gets in for a tight game.
Strop had one bad inning, which we expect to get from him occasionally, so, again, we’re not very concerned about this. He had a 1.23 ERA going into the game on Wednesday when he gave up two runs on one hit, two walks and a wild pitch.
Here are the pitching totals for the series:
Cubs’ batters continue to get quality at-bats. It seems like such a simple concept but it’s difficult to execute consistently – patience at the plate. And boy, do the Cubs do that better than any other team. They rank number one in the Majors in walks with 114. The next closest are the Pirates with 96. That amounts to nearly one more walk per game then the next closest team. It’s not sexy but it sure shows up in the box score and translates, consistently, into runs scored.
In this series the Cubs finished with seventeen walks and fifteen hits. They have the highest BB% at 13.5% and the seventh lowest K% at 19.4% in the Majors. That’s plate discipline and it’s a key to stretching opposing pitchers, scoring runs and winning games.
Here are the total offensive numbers from this series:
|Tommy La Stella||2||1||1||1||3||0||.500||.800|
Kris Bryant, who sustained a mild right ankle sprain, was an offensive catalyst in this series, scoring three runs and getting on base 71% of the time. Addison Russell scored two runs with a triple in game one and ended with two hits, two walks and three RBIs.
Both Anthony Rizzo and Tommy La Stella had three walks in series. La Stella had five plate appearances with three walks and one hit for a .800 OBP. That’s very good and so far this season his slash is .375/.464/.667 – solid.
The Cubs continue to do all the little things well. From starting pitching and the bullpen, to quality at-bats, run generation, and stretching opposing pitchers, the Cubs are executing as well as a team could this early in the season. There have been a couple games this year where they’ve had temporary melt-downs, but for the majority of games this season they have been focused and executing well. I’m excited to see where this team goes because my expectation is that they are only going to get better. That’s a scary thought for 29 other teams.