Cubs record: 59-39, 1st NL Central, (7 games up)
W: Dan Jennings
L: Mike Montgomery
MVP: Javier Baez
One of the most inconsequential series of the year kicked off today as the Cubs fell to the White Sox in the first game of this season’s Crosstown Cup at the Cell. While the Windy City battle has lost its luster, this game had a little more buzz after both teams have made so many headlines over the last couple of days.
Jake Arrieta took the mound for the Cubs and the White Sox countered with Miguel Gonzalez. The 32-year-old right-hander got an early break in the first inning when this happened:
Melky Cabrera robs Kris Bryant with a pretttty decent catch in the first inning. pic.twitter.com/m6cu3KkqpH
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticChi) July 26, 2016
Tip your cap to Melky Cabrera with a catch-of-the-year nominee against Kris Bryant. From there on out, Gonzalez cruised until the 7th inning when Javy Baez launched a two-run bomb to left field ending the shut out.
Javy’s homer was enough to bring the Cubs within two as Arrieta gave up four runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts. He pitched better than his stat line would indicate as he only allowed one run through 5.2 innings pitched. But after a Cabrera walk and an Abreu single in the 6th, Todd Frazier went deep and made a good outing look bad for Arrieta.
In the 9th, Matt Albers was in for his first career save attempt and Baez promptly welcomed him with a loud double to the right field corner. After Javy stole third, Dexter Fowler singled with a scorcher off the glove of Abreu to make it 4-3 with no outs. Kris Bryant then singled, but was out trying to take second and Rizzo hit home Fowler to make it 4-4.
In the bottom of the 9th, Mike Montgomery was up to keep to the game tied, but it didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off. J.B. Shuck singled, Dioner Navarro sacrificed him to second and Tyler Saladino singled to center plating the game-winning run for the White Sox third consecutive walk-off win.
The Cubs team effort in the 9th to tie the game was really something and Arrieta had a good start outside the three-run homer, but Javier Baez was the MVP of this game. His bat was electric as he went 3-4 with a home run, two RBI, two runs scored, and a stolen base. While the Cubs lost the game, they had a real shot to win it thanks to Baez.
Miguel Gonzalez is not very good, but he had a solid game against the Cubs offense. A career 4.41 ERA pitcher with a 4.11 FIP and 1.335 FIP over 662 innings entering tonight, he is someone the Cubs should have pounded. Baez did get his one home run, but with seven hits and two walks, they should have been able to score a couple more.
Bryant was King of the TOOTBLAN in this game. First, he tried to take two in the top of the 3rd on a sharp single and got caught in a pickle. Baez, who started on second initially, hesitated going home on the hit but broke for the plate when he saw Bryant caught up. It was the right move to make on Baez’s part, but he was out at the plate and it ended a threat that could have altered the game. In the 9th, Bryant advanced Fowler to third on another single to left, but he got greedy going for second and was thrown out. If he had stopped at first he *might* have scored later in the inning. It wasn’t Bryant’s night.
Kyle Hendricks takes the mound for the North Siders as former Cubs woulda-coulda-shouldn’t-have James Shields throws for the White Sox. The Professor is going to have to change his name to Mr. Consistency if he keeps this up; he’s allowed zero earned runs in five of his last six starts and has emerged as the Cubs’ best starter as of late.
Newcomer Aroldis Chapman is set to join the team tomorrow night as well and having not pitched since Saturday, I expect him to get in the game even if there isn’t a save on the line. The Crosstown Cup is in danger of slipping through the Cubs’ hands, let’s see if they can cling on for dear life tomorrow night.