The Cubs’ ability to generate offense and score runs with two outs led to big things in tonight’s game. They produced well in those clutch, two-out situations, something they’ve had struggles with so far this season. Kyle Hendricks — who gave up five runs in his last outing in San Diego — had difficulties tonight as well. The bullpen stepped up big and did a good job of closing the door on the Cardinals.
Ian Happ started the scoring for the Cubs with a solo home run in the bottom of the 3rd inning, his third on the year, to give the Cubs a brief one run lead.
The Cardinals would hang four runs on Hendricks in the top of the 4th inning. He walked Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter to lead off the inning, then Stephen Piscotty deposited the first pitch he saw into the left field bleachers. Two more singles allowed another run to cross the plate for the Cardinals. Aldemys Diaz followed with a double moving Paul DeJong to third base but fortunately the pitcher, Michael Wacha, grounded out to end the inning. Hendricks threw 42 pitches in that inning, and was removed for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the frame.
In the bottom of the 4th inning, just after Hendricks gave up the lead, the Cubs responded in a big way, scoring five runs. Following a two-out walk by Miguel Montero, Addison Russell hustled out an infield single to the right side. Albert Almora singled to right and advanced to third when the ball scooted under the glove of right fielder Piscotty, allowing two runs to score. After Kyle Schwarber drew a walk Ian Happ stepped up to the plate. In his previous at bat he blasted a home run down the right field line that barely stayed fair. This time, he blasted one out into the right-center bleachers. It was the first multi-homer game of his young career.
Hector Rondon came into the game in the 6th inning and did not look sharp. He gave up a leadoff single to Yadier Molina, who promptly stole second with ease. He then walked Tommy Pham and promptly threw a wild pitch to allow Molina and Pham to get into scoring position. Paul DeJong drove in a run on a fielder’s choice, and Aledmys Diaz drove in Pham on a double. Rondon showed little ability to locate the ball throughout the inning. He’s looked good at times throughout the season but has had a few blow-up games like tonight that bring back memories of Carlos Marmol blow ups.
In the bottom of the 7th inning the Cubs once again struck with two outs when Jon Jay — who was pinch hitting for Pedro Strop — singled to drive in Anthony Rizzo. Jason Heyward was thrown out trying to advance to third on the play but the damage was done and the Cubs pushed the winning run across the plate.
Koji Uehara came on in the 9th inning and got the save.
Stats that Matter
- The offense went 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position and drove five runs in with two outs.
- Ian Happ rewarded Joe Maddon for sticking with him in the leadoff spot – 2-for-5, 2R, 4RBI, 2HR, 2Ks
- Anthony Rizzo had a solid night – 3-for-4, 1R, 2B
- Kyle Hendricks has had two rough starts in a row – 4.0IP, 4R, 4H, 3BB, 3Ks, 1HR
- Kyle Schwarber couldn’t muster a hit but he did walk three times and looked much better at the plate than he has previously this season.
The Cubs just swept the Cardinals in a series that really felt as close to a must-win as you can get in early June. The offense took advantage of their opportunities in this series, much more then it did during the recent west coast swing. They got hits when they needed them, and were able to generate runs with contributions from multiple players. If the team can continue performing like they did this weekend, then perhaps they can start to build some momentum heading into the All-Star break.
Tomorrow the Cubs welcome the Miami Marlins to Wrigley Field. Eddie Butler takes the mound for the Cubs, while former Cub Dan Straily will start for Miami. First pitch is at 7:05 CDT, and the game will be broadcast on CSN Chicago.