Cubs record: 43-19, 1st NL Central, (8.5 games up)
W: Max Scherzer
L: Kyle Hendricks
S: Shawn Kelley (1)
MVP: Max Scherzer
When it’s not your night, it’s not your night. Or in the case of Max Scherzer, when you’re on, you’re on. The Cubs fell to the Washington Nationals tonight as they faced an opponent who was lights out. Scherzer’s stuff was on a different level as he carried a perfect game (and the team) into the 6th inning before giving up an Addison Russell bomb, his only run allowed.
When a guy is pitching as well as Max did tonight, there isn’t really much the other team can do. Hendricks wasn’t exceptionally bad but he ended up with a relatively ugly line of 5.1 innings pitched with six hits and four walks issued. Justin Grimm relieved him and was incredibly shaky in his 1.2 innings, but got out unharmed outside of an inherited run in the 6th. The Cubs couldn’t mount a comeback as the Nationals’ bullpen finished the game with a clean 8th and 9th inning and the ballgame was over.
Russell has really been struggling in the month of June, hitting .161 with a .188 OBP and no home runs. That all changed when he launched a full-count pitch into the left field seats to break up the perfect game. It felt like Scherzer was going to cruise tonight and at least a no-no seemed inevitable until Russell’s dinger. Hopefully putting a dent in Scherzer’s armor gets Addy back on the right track at the plate.
Hendricks was pitching a great game until the bottom of the 6th, but the wind went out of the Cubs’ sails when, after Russell tied it in the top of the inning, Hendricks immediately gave up a home run to Wilson Ramos to give the lead right back. The Professor has been pitching really well this year and games like this will happen (heck, he only gave up three earned runs and was two outs away from a quality start).
The Cubs are in a bit of an error streak that isn’t helping them on nights like tonight. With two errors tonight that both led to runs (Jason Werth scored on a throwing error in the third, but it was earned since he would have scored later in the inning regardless), the team now has ten miscues in the last four games. They need to clean up their defense moving forward.
John Lackey takes the mound for the Cubs against Gio Gonzalez in the second game of the series in our nation’s capitol. After a hot start to the season, Gonzalez has regressed and now sports a 3.93 ERA (3.48 FIP) over twelve games. He’s allowed seven, six, five and three earned runs over his last four starts, so the Cubs should have a good chance to score a few based on recent events. While Gio is trending down, Lackey is trending way up, having allowed only one earned run in his last three starts. He looks to win his fourth game in a row and give the Cubs a chance to win the series on Wednesday when the game starts tomorrow at 6:05 CST.