Cubs Record: 90-50 (magic number: 7)
W: Jon Lester (16-4, 2.51 ERA)
L: Joe Musgrove (2-4, 4.78 ERA)
S: Aroldis Chapman (33)
MVP: Jon Lester: 7 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
The Cubs soared into Houston Friday night to meet the Astros in game one of a three-game series. It was a 2-0 victory as the Cubs picked up their 90th win and diminished their magic number to seven!
They sent Jon Lester to the mound, opposed by 23-year-old right-hander Joe Musgrove. Both starting pitchers actually did very well and kept their respective teams in the game.
The Cubs had a scoring chance almost immediately, as Dexter Fowler tripled to lead off the game. Unfortunately, they could not bring Fowler home and squandered what looked to be a very promising inning.
Both offenses were quiet until the top of the 5th inning, when Musgrove issued a two-out walk to Fowler. Next up was Kris Bryant, who launched a two-run shot to left and put the Cubs up 2-0. Right after the Bryant home run, chants of “M-V-P” erupted in Minute Maid Park.
That home run proved to be the only offense for either side. The Astros’ best scoring chance was in the bottom of the 7th whe, they had runners on second and third with two outs. Jon Lester worked a full count on Colby Rasmus before ringing him up on strikes. Lester was pumped as he walked back to the dugout.
Jon Lester pitched one heck of a ball game. Despite giving up a hit every inning except for the 1st, he was able to get out unscathed thanks to his control and some pretty smooth glove work by his teammates. His only real challenging inning came in the 7th, but he was able to freeze Colby Rasmus on a no-doubter strike three call.
Hector Rondon threw an effortlessly flawless 8th inning. The first man he faced was Teoscar Hernandez, who struck out swinging on a beautiful 98 mph fastball. That set the tone as Rondon also struck out Tony Kemp and then got George Springer to ground out to end the inning.
Kris Bryant, the guy so many people are already declaring MVP, hit his 37th longball of the season and it was a game-winner He is now tied with Nolan Arenado of the Rockies for most home runs in the National League.
Despite winning the game, Cubs had some missed opportunities. They had men on the corners with only one out in the 1st, but neither Ben Zobrist nor Addison Russell could get the job done as they struck out and grounded out, respectively. In the 3rd, they had men on first and second with two outs but failed to get it done yet again. In the grand scheme of the game, the Cubs didn’t need those runs. However, these are the situations that you hope the Cubs will turn into runs when it matters in the playoffs.
David Ross was pretty ugly… if you are either an Astros player or fan. He may be old and gray-bearded, but Grandpa Rossy once again reminded everyone why you don’t run on him. He was able to nail George Springer in the 3rd inning and Alex Bregman in the 4th inning as they attempted to steal.
The Cubs and Astros are back at it again Saturday afternoon at 12:05 CT. John Lackey, who has a 1.65 ERA over his last five starts, takes the mound for the Cubs coming off of a good outing in which he only gave up one hit over five innings against the Giants. He will be opposed by right-hander Collin McHugh, who was knocked for five runs in 4 1/3 innings for no decision his last time out. McHugh has pitched less than five innings in six starts this season, probably not a recipe for success against this Cubs team.