Entering this three game series on the road against the Kansas City Royals, the Cubs we 64-47 and held a slim one game lead in the N.L. Central over the Brewers. Cole Hamels took the mound for the Cubs for the second time and delivered six innings of one-run ball to keep the Cubs in this game throughout.
Cole Hamels came over in a deadline trade to shore up the back end of the rotation and, through two starts, has accomplished just that as he has only given up one earned run in eleven innings. Javier Baez continued his strong 2018 season as he delivered a home run and a double to make the difference in this game.
The Cubs pitching staff, led by Cole Hamels, did a great job of slowing the Royals offense and gave the Cubs’ offense time to drive in just enough runs for the win (box score).
Why The Cubs Won
Cole Hamels is showing exactly why the Cubs traded for him this year, as he has provided consistent innings and production in the back end of the rotation. The bullpen came through for three scoreless innings like it has for the majority of the season. Baez and Ben Zobrist both had multi-hit games to continue their strong second-half play and carried the offense on a night when runs were hard to come by.
In the top of the fourth inning, Zobrist led off the inning with a triple that was followed by a walk issued to Jason Heyward. Royals pitcher Jakob Junis got Baez to strike out for the first out before throwing a wild pitch that allowed Zobrist to score the Cubs’ first run of the game to tie it up 1-1. Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras proceeded to strike out to end the inning.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth inning, Drew Butera singled to center field to put a man on with one out. Whit Merrifield struck out for the second out, but that was followed up by a single by Alex Gordon to put runners on first and second with two outs. Salvador Perez was hit by a pitch on the foot to load the bases with two outs and the score tied 1-1. Hamels managed to escape the jam by getting a ground out to first base by Hunter Dozier to prevent the Royals from taking the lead.
Following the bases loaded scoring opportunity by the Royals in the bottom of the fifth inning, Kevin McCarthy came in to pitch for Royals in the sixth inning. Javy greeted him with a first pitch home run to center to put the Cubs up 2-1, which was all that it took for a win tonight. The Cubs managed to tag on another insurance run in the eighth inning off a double by Javy for the final score of 3-1.
Stats That Matter
- 25- The number of Home Runs that Javy has hit so far this year. The question now is how many more he can hit for the remainder of the season.
- 0.82- Cole Hamels’ ERA through two Cubs starts. He’s struck out 11 batters and walked three in his 11 innings of work.
- 2- The number of hits that Zobrist and Baez each contributed tonight. Both continued to stay hot as each are hitting at least .350 since the start of the second half.
The Cubs missed some opportunities to tag on some runs, specifically in the bases loaded opportunity in the fifth inning, but they still got enough key hits to earn the win in the first game of this road series. The starting rotation is starting to round into shape behind a struggling Jon Lester and this could be a sign of good things to come as we progress in the last two months of the season.
The Cubs and Royals are back at it on Tuesday for game two of this series. The Cubs send southpaw Mike Montgomery to the mound, as the Royals counter with rookie right-hander Brad Keller. First pitch is slated for 7:15pm and will air on NBC Sports Chicago.