Cubs record: 62-40, 1st NL Central
W: Jon Lester
L: Hisashi Iwakuma
MVPs: Every single hitter (except Addison Russell) and Jon Lester
Well, this was quite the game and one heck of an offensive explosion. Every starter other than Addison Russell scored at least one run and every position player (except for Russell and Zobrist) drove in at least one run. The Cubs mashed a pair of homers (Jason Heyward and David Ross) and were 6 for 12 with RISP while batting around in the six-run 6th inning.
Lester wasn’t terribly sharp to begin the game, but quickly settled in and pitched a gem. He threw 6 shutout innings while walking 2 and giving up 4 hits with 7 Ks to earn the W.
This performance was sorely needed and hopefully a sign of things to come. When the offense is at its best, it takes the pressure off of the starting pitchers to be perfect, which, in my opinion, is really what led to such a hot start for the Cubs at the beginning of the year. As the offense began to scuffle, the pitchers began to press a bit.
Where should I start? I will work my way down from the top from the lineup, because, like I said earlier, pretty much everyone contributed.
Chris Coghlan made his return from a prolonged stay on the DL and got the start in LF and leadoff for the Cubs. He had a big two-out, two-run single to get the Cubs on the board in the 2nd. He also drew a couple walks and scored two runs. There was much debating on whether Tommy La Stella should have been sent down for Coghlan, but I would say the decision looks pretty solid.
Kris Bryant had a very impressive day, reaching all five times up to the plate, going 3 for 3 with two singles (1 drove in his 68th run), his 25th double. He also drew a couple walks and stole his 7th base.
Anthony Rizzo turned the game into a laugher with a three-run double in the 6th inning that was just fair down the 3rd base line. He now is tied with Jay Bruce for the NL lead in RBI with 79.
Ben Zobrist is really coming around after slumping for a little over a month. He had a 2 for 3 day today with a walk and his 20th double. He looks much more comfortable at the plate and it is good to see him contributing.
Jason Heyward has been working with Cubs hitting coach John Mallee on elevating the ball, as he has been routinely grounding out to the right side of the diamond. The work has paid off and he hit a two-run HR into the right field bleachers. The home run was his first since June 11th and it was also the hardest ball he’s hit all year (102.5 MPH). He also smashed a ball to left-center that would have been a homer on most days, but was held up by the wind for an out. Heyward later added a sac-fly later to give him 3 RBI on the day.
Javier Baez continues to look like the player all of Cubdom had hoped he would become. He had a 3 for 5 day at the plate with his 38th RBI. His average is all the way up to .293 and his outstanding glove at multiple spots in the infield is so valuable to this team.
David Ross even got in on the offensive explosion, going 2 for 4 with his 7th HR and two runs scored. He has been pretty much Jon Lester’s personal catcher all year, but has contributed more than expected on offense.
The game also treated us to a position player pitching on the Mariners’ side as utility IF Luis Sardinas came in to pitch the bottom of the 8th inning and retired the Cubs in order, though he did give up a smash to Javier Baez that would have been a HR on a normal day.
The Bad/The Ugly
The rain delayed the inevitable for an hour and fourteen minutes, but truly it held off much longer than I thought it would when the game first started. I half expected them to call the game once it started raining, but I guess the score doesn’t really dictate those decisions and if it stops raining enough to play a full game, then go for it.
Other than that little delay, the only bad thing was maybe Mike Montgomery, who came in afterwards and worked the last 2 innings, giving up a run on 3 hits and 2 walks with a strikeout. He worked a scoreless frist inning of relief, but was in trouble most of the 9th and gave up the shutout. No big deal in the grand scheme, but it would have been nice to see him work a little more sharp of an inning of relief.
The Cubs and Mariners are back at it tomorrow afternoon with a 1:20 PM (CST) start time. The game will be a matchup between Wade Miley (6-8, 5.23) and Jake Arrieta (12-4, 2.76).