Cubs record: 40-16 (1st in NL Central)
W: Jon Lester (7-3, 2.06)
L: Adam Morgan (1-5, 6.70)
S: Hector Rondon (11)
MVP: Jon Lester
The Cubs wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in this one. Dexter Fowler led things off with a double and was brought home one out later on a Kris Bryant…triple? Home run? Oh, a fan-interference double. Regardless, Fowler crossed home plate on the play to make it 1-0 Chicago.
The scored remained the same until the top of the third. Jon Lester, not content to limit his impact to his work on the mound, doubled to right field with one out in the inning. After Fowler went down on strikes, Jason Heyward stepped up with two outs and lined a pitch over the right field wall for his third home run of the season and the 100th of his career to make it 3-0.
Two more Chicago runs crossed the plate in the seventh thanks to some small ball. Fowler and Bryant reached on a pair of singles to put runners on the corners with one out. Anthony Rizzo displayed some great bat control in depositing an RBI single into left field to bring in Fowler, while Bryant scored one batter later on a Matt Szczur sacrifice bunt. The Cubs added on another run in the top of the ninth to push the lead to 6-0.
Those insurance runs would prove valuable. With the Cubs up six runs and the Phillies looking lifeless at the plate, Joe Maddon pulled Lester and went with Justin Grimm to close things out. Three batters later and it was 6-3, thanks to a Freddy Galvis three-run home run.
Hector Rondon then entered the game in a rather surprising save situation and promptly gave up a home run to Tommy Joseph. Rondon was able to regroup, however, and eventually induced a Ryan Howard groundout to first to end the game.
These outings from the Chicago starting pitchers are almost starting to become blasé.
After dominating the Los Angeles Dodgers his last time out (9 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K), Lester continued this season-long run by the starters by throwing eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits with no walks and nine strikeouts.
I know some may want to throw qualifiers on his past two performances; neither the Dodgers nor the Phillies are exactly offensive juggernauts. They are still Major League hitters, however, and it’s not like Lester has been doing it with smoke and mirrors. He has been nasty, mixing his pitches extremely well and to great effect.
On the offensive side, the first four hitters in the Cubs’ lineup combined to go 10 for 18 with three doubles, five runs scored and five RBI. Bryant in particular came within six inches of having a two-homer night, but instead had to “settle” for a couple of doubles.
In what was easily the bad news of the night for the Cubs, Jorge Soler left the game in the top of the third with an apparent left hamstring injury. The injury in question appeared to have occurred while Soler was rounding first base after he laced a single to left field.
While the severity of the injury is unknown at this point, it is unfortunate for both the Cubs and Soler. The young right fielder had been having solid plate appearances of late, including going 2-for-2 in this game. Hopefully, the injury will not require a stint on the disabled list, though it bears mentioning that Soler has battled leg issues throughout his time in the organization.
It was a forgettable performance from the Chicago bullpen. While they eventually emerged with the victory, Grimm and Rondon turned what had been a nice, relaxing game into a bit of a nail-biter.
Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 2.84) will look to keep his recent hot streak going as the Cubs continue their series in Philadelphia Tuesday night. The Phillies will counter with right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (2-8, 3.93). First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. (CST).