Cubs Record: 82-46 (1st in NL Central; magic number 22)
W: Julio Urias (5-2)
L: Jason Hammel (13-7)
S: Kenley Jansen (38th save)
MVP: Rob Zastryzny (3.2 IP, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 BB, 3 K) in relief of Hammel
The Cubs drew first blood in the game today when the 1st three hitters all reached based (Dexter Fowler walk, Kris Bryant single, Anthony Rizzo RBI single), which led to the game’s first run. The Dodgers responded in their half of the first with a one-out solo HR by Corey Seager.
The Dodgers scored 2 in the bottom half of the 3rd to chase Hammel and take a 3-1 lead. The Cubs didn’t really threaten until the top of the 7th once Urias was removed from the game. Willson Contreras reached on a beautiful bunt single down the 3rd base line. He advanced to 2nd on a throwing error by Pedro Baez on the bunt.
Contreras advanced to 3rd on a balk by Baez and came around to score on a pinch-hit RBI single to left by Jason Heyward (after what was a very impressive AB) to make it a 3-2 game. The Cubs got a couple more guys on in the 7th (Fowler and Bryant walks), but Rizzo struck out with the go-ahead run on first to end the threat.
The Cubs went very quietly in the 8th and 9th and the Dodgers held on for the 3-2 victory.
Rob Zastryzny came into the game in relief of Hammel and was extremely impressive during his entire outing. He worked 3.2 scoreless innings, allowing only a soft single and walking none with 3 K’s. He still has not given up a run in his 7.1 innings of big league work.
Trevor Cahill and Travis Wood also pitched well with both turning in perfect innings of relief work. Cahill struck out two in his inning and now has a cool 2.70 ERA.
The Cubs were pretty unspectacular at the plate on the whole. Fowler reached base three times (single and two walks), Rizzo was 2-for-4 with the RBI single, and Contreras was 2-for-4 with a couple singles. All of the Cubs’ 8 hits were singles.
Jason Hammel had a rather short leash today and only made it through 2.1 innings before getting the hook. He was obviously unhappy with the decision, but he didn’t appear to be injured. In his short outing, he gave up 3 runs (all earned) on 5 hits (one solo HR) with no walks and a strikeout.
Maybe Joe Maddon wanted to give his pitcher a breather or maybe the skipper has seen before how this plays out from Hammel (ie: last start against the Rockies, when he gave up 10 runs in 3.1 innings). Either way, it would be nice for Hammel go a bit deeper and get better results next time out.
There was not anything ugly about this game; the Cubs just got beat today and that is going to happen in baseball. Urias really settled down after his 30+ pitch first inning and worked 6 strong. Kenley Jansen is one of the best closers in baseball, so it was unlikely to have lightning strike twice after he blew a save last night. The Cubs at least have a favorable match up Sunday.
The final game of the three-game tilt with the Dodgers is Sunday afternoon at 3:10 PM (CST). Jon Lester (14-4, 2.81) will get the ball for the finale against household name Brock Stewart (0-2, 11.25) for the Dodgers. The weekend series started with Bud Norris as the only sure thing for the Dodgers this weekend; the other match ups were TBA, so Stewart is the last piece of the puzzle. In his two career starts, he has given up 14 earned runs and 5 homers. Add in the fact that the Dodgers are below .500 against LHP, and tomorrow sounds promising.