Cubs record: 93-52 (1st NL Central, 17 games up)
Cubs Magic Number: 1!
W: Jon Lester (17-4, 2.40)
L: Carlos Martinez (14-8, 3.15)
MVPs: Jon Lester, David Ross and Anthony Rizzo
Jon Lester looked postseason-ready on the mound and the Cubs’ bats provided more than enough offense in their 7-0 victory today over the Cardinals. The Cubs are now either one win or one Cardinal loss away from clinching the NL Central with 17 games to go.
Jon Lester got the Cubs on the board with an RBI single in the 3rd, driving in Javier Baez, who had hit a leadoff double. Grandpa David Ross smashed a two-run home run to center in the 5th that was measured at 429 feet to give the Cubs a 3-0 advantage.
Kris Bryant hit an RBI triple that a diving Randal Grichuk whiffed on in center and Anthony Rizzo came up next and hit a two-run homer (he had hit a solo shot in the 6th) to make it a 7-0 game.
Lester would have made his own run hold up with the way hit pitched today. He went 8 very strong innings and gave up just 3 hits (all singles) with a walk and 8 K’s.
It doesn’t get much better than Jon Lester, who has actually been on a tear recently. Over his last 7 starts (coming into today) he was 4-0 with a 0.97 ERA and a 0.78 WHIP. He improved those numbers today and has run his record to 17-4 while dropping his ERA to 2.40.
David Ross has contributed so much more than just his leadership this season. He went 1-for-4 with the homer, his 9th HR and 30th and 31st RBI, but also threw out 2 guys trying to steal in the 2nd inning. Can we start a “one more year” chant?
Anthony Rizzo did some nice things today at the plate, hitting 2 homers to right. He now has 31 HR’s on the year and 101 RBI to become the first Cub to have back-to-back 100-RBI seasons since Aramis Ramirez.
Jason Heyward had a good game at the dish as well, going 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. I look forward to his rebound with the bat, but the value of his glove has not diminished all season and I fully expect him to be out there every game in the playoffs.
Hector Rondon came in for the final 3 outs and looked strong again. He went 3 up, 3 down with a strikeout to lower his ERA to 2.51. His velocity and control were both on point and having him back to normal with the impending readdition of Pedro Strop should make for a very strong playoff bullpen.
The Cubs did strike out 12 times as a team today including 8 times in the first 4 innings, but that is me grasping at something to put here. It didn’t matter today and they did just strike out 5 times the rest of the way, but hopefully contact issues won’t pop up during October.
There was nothing ugly about this one. It would have been nice to clinch in St. Louis, but sealing it up at home this weekend will be even better.
The Cubs will welcome the Brewers to town Thursday for a 4-game series this weekend. Game 1 will be at 7:05 PM (CST) with Mike Montgomery (1-1, 3.67) getting the ball for the Cubs against Jimmy Nelson (7-14, 4.42) for the Brew Crew. Joe Maddon said this week that Montgomery will probably make two more starts this year, so it would be cool for the clinching win to be one of those.