Cubs Record: 22-6 (1st place in NL Central)
W-John Lackey (4-1)
L-Max Scherzer (3-2)
S-Hector Rondon (5)
MVP-Ben Zobrist (2-for-2, 2 HRs, 3 runs, 4 RBI, 2 BBs)
The Cubs fell behind 2-0 as John Lackey struggled a bit early, but scored 8 runs on 4 homers to take an 8-2 lead late into the game before the Nationals stormed back to make things interesting in the 8th. Ultimately the Cubs held on to take the 8-6 victory and have won the first 2 games of the four-game series.
The Cubs offense was again relentless, driving up large pitch counts for Scherzer. They had six extra-base hits to provide plenty of run support against a very talented Nationals team.
Tommy La Stella turned the 2-0 deficit into a 2-2 tie with a two-run home run (his 2nd) in the 2nd inning. Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist went back-to-back in the 3rd and then Zobrist had the biggest HR of the game, a three-run shot in the 5th. Dexter Fowler added an RBI single in the 6th.
Ben Zobrist is making an argument to join the Bryzzo Souvenir Company (Bryzzobrist could work). He was huge today and stuffed the box score, reaching base all five times with two HR’s (5 total on the year) and three walks. He drove in four (24 RBI now) and has homered in three straight games.
Anthony Rizzo crushed a home run right down the RF line that had to be reviewed and confirmed in the 3rd. It was his 10th big fly of the season and he now has 28 RBI on the year to go with a much-improved .257 average. Rizzo has gotten piping hot as of late and is looking even better than last year.
Tommy La Stella continues to show value to this team and he finished 2-for-4 with his second homer. He is now hitting .356 on the year.
John Lackey is the epitome of grinder out on the mound. He didn’t have his best stuff early, but limited the damage and make it through 7 innings, giving up just two runs on six hits with one walk and 11 K’s (1 off his career high). It was the second time this season he has struck out 11 and he also reached a milestone of over 2,000 strikeouts in his career.
Hector Rondon probably won’t get many save opportunities with this lineup, but it is good to know that if he is called upon he can get the job done. He was perfect in the 9th for his 5th save as he struck out two to seal the victory.
Clayton Richard and Justin Grimm didn’t exactly get the job done today. Richard retired two of the four men he faced, but both he put down were righties. Which means he allowed both lefties, Bryce Harper (BB) and Daniel Murphy (single), to reach before being replaced by Justin Grimm. Granted, those are two pretty solid left-handed hitters, but still, it would have been nice to retire at least one of them.
Justin Grimm came in and allowed both inherited runners to score, then gave up two runs of his own on a Wilson Ramos bomb to deep left. Grimm had been nails to this point, so he was due for a little bump in the road and it’s better for it to happen in a game the Cubs had control of, but it made my afternoon a little more stressful.
Kris Bryant and Javier Baez K’d three times each, but then they also hit rockets into the shift for outs. Three strikeouts is not the end of the world though, especially against Scherzer. Still , it wasn’t like it was a good thing either.
I can’t really find much ugly with a win that stretches the streak to five and gives the Cubs wins in nine of their last 10. The Cubs are taking care of business and I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams would have predicted that the season would start out this well.
Game 3 of the series will be tomorrow afternoon at 3:05 PM (CST) on CSN (locally) and FS1 (national broadcast). Jason Hammel (4-0, 1.24) will take the ball for the Cubs against Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.15) for the Nats. Hammel has been especially dominant in the early part of the season and he will hopefully keep it going tomorrow afternoon.