Cubs Record: 95-55
W: Jason Hammel (15-9, 3.56)
L: Blake Wood (6-4, 4.08)
SV: Aroldis Chapman (15 for Cubs, 35 overall)
MVP: Dexter Fowler (2-out go-ahead RBI in the 7th)
Jason Hammel got the start for the Cubs and pitched very well, only giving up 2 runs in his 7 innings of work. He was the benefactor of some late offense from the Cubs to get the win, but he pitched well enough to deserve it too.
The Reds struck first with Brandon Phillips hitting a home run to the left field bleachers to lead off the inning. The Reds were quiet till the 6th when Hernan Iribarren tripled on a ball that just scooted past Jason Heyward in right. Joey Votto then blooped an RBI single over a drawn-in infield to make it 2-0.
The Cubs did pretty much nothing offensively all game until the 7th and 8th innings, when they scored 3 and 2, respectively, on three home runs to go ahead 5-2 and ultimately secure the win. Addison Russell and Willson Contreras did not get cheated on solo shots in the 7th. After a Chris Coghlan double and Tommy La Stella popout, Dexter Fowler came to the plate and hit a clutch 2-out, go ahead RBI single to give the Cubs all they would need.
Jason Heyward added some insurance runs in the 8th with an opposite field, 2-run HR to keep a save in order while still making things much less interesting for Aroldis Chapman.
The final two innings and the offensive outburst were a sight for sore eyes after the Cubs dropped 3 out of 4 to the lowly Brewers this past weekend. Russell clobbered a ball most of the way up the bleachers to lead off the 7th inning. One out later, Willson Contreras hit a ball so hard out to LF that it left the ballpark over the Nuveen sign. He swung as though the Reds catcher had whispered to him what was coming.
Russell now has 21 HRs and 93 RBI on the year to go along with his great glove work (though he did make another throwing error tonight). Contreras hasn’t exactly been on fire lately, so it was good to see him hit his 10th homer of the year and hopefully he will get going offensively now.
Dexter Fowler has been kind of slumping recently, but came through in a huge spot with his RBI single in the 7th to complete the rally for the Cubs.
Jason Heyward crushed a ball on the outer third of the plate in the bottom of the 8th for a 2-run HR to give the Cubs a 5-2 lead and ultimately a victory. It was just his 7th HR and 45th RBI to go with a .230 AVG.
Anthony Rizzo had a 2-hit day and just missed a HR in the 6th inning when he hit a booming fly ball down the line for his 40th double. He also ripped a single to right through the shift and is now hitting .292 on the season.
Jason Hammel has been kind of up and down recently, but looked to have righted the ship tonight. He went 7 strong innings and gave up 2 runs (both earned) on just 4 hits and 1 walk with 6 K’s.
Kris Bryant looks nothing like the leading candidate for the NL MVP. He went 0-for-4 tonight with K’s that didn’t look great, as they came quickly and lacked his normal gritty AB’s.
Nothing ugly about starting the three-game series with a win over the Reds and only using a couple guys out of the pen.
Game 2 of the series will be Tuesday night at 7:05 PM (CST) at Wrigley and will feature a matchup between Josh Smith (3-1, 4.97) for the Reds against Jon Lester (17-4, 2.40) for the Cubs. Lester is behind only Kyle Hendricks for NL ERA lead and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get some first place votes for the Cy Young award this season.