Cubs Record: 87-47 (1st in NL Central, magic number down to 14)
W: Jon Lester (15-4, 2.61)
L: Albert Suarez (3-3, 4.29)
MVP: Jon Lester (6.2 innings of no-hit baseball and a complete game victory)
Jon Lester was the story in this one today as he pitched a complete game in the Cubs’ 2-1 victory over the Giants. Lester had a no-hitter through 6.2 innings before he gave up a solo HR to Hunter Pence. He went on to finish the game for his second complete game of the year.
The Cubs did all their damage in the 3rd inning. Javier Baez opened the inning with a double down the right field line and came around to score with David Ross hit his own double right down the line in left. Lester sacrificed Ross to third and he scored on an RBI single from Dexter Fowler to give the Cubs 2 runs and all of the offense they would need behind Lester.
The Cubs are now 40 games over .500 and have eliminated a two teams (Reds and Brewers) from postseason contention. No other division leader has eliminated even one team yet. They are in great shape to clinch early and rest their starters as much as they want, but also keep them sharp for the playoffs.
It is hard to be better than Jon Lester was today; he was quick, efficient and nearly unhittable. He needed just 102 pitches for this gem and gave up a total of 3 hits with 2 walks and 4 K’s. He lowered his ERA to 2.61 and should get a fair amount of Cy Young award votes at this point.
The defense behind Lester today was outstanding. Kris Bryant made a couple great plays, including a diving catch toward the third base line on a ball that was destined for the left field corner. Dexter Fowler made a diving catch on a line drive to center and it really felt like, with all the great defense, this would turn out to be a no-hitter. That didn’t happen, but a complete game victory is still pretty nice.
Today was not really a day for offense and the Cubs only had 5 hits as a team. Ross and Fowler each had an RBI, while Anthony Rizzo had a two-hit day that included his 38th double (tying him for the league lead).
It was good to give the pen a bit of a breather too. Aroldis Chapman was going to have the day off anyway and it appeared that if Lester had gotten into any trouble in the 9th, Maddon would have turned to Justin Grimm.
The Bad/The Ugly
There was nothing bad or ugly about this game, it was an all around well-played effort from the Cubs. They played great defense, got timely hitting, and Lester pitched his tail off. All in all a great win.
Tomorrow is game three of the four-game series with the Giants and it is one heck of a great matchup. Jake Arrieta (16-5, 2.84) will get the ball for the Cubs against Madison Bumgarner (13-8, 2.49) for the Giants. The game starts at 1:20 PM (CST) and can be seen on Comcast SportsNet Chicago.