The Cubs and Padres met for the first time this season at a steamy Wrigley Field for a battle of southpaws. Perhaps the conditions were affecting the players, because this was a very sloppy game all around. In the end, San Diego’s misplays proved to be the more costly.
Jon Lester was the victim of bad luck on batted balls most of the game and barely overcame it. He allowed four singles, two of which were on the infield, in the 1st inning and a sacrifice fly by Hunter Renfroe gave the Padres a 1-0 lead. Manny Machado increased the lead with a two-run homer in the 3rd.
The Cubs got to starter Eric Lauer in the bottom of the inning as Albert Almora Jr. and Javy Báez reached on infield singles of their own. Kris Bryant drew a walk to load the bases with two outs for Anthony Rizzo, who hadn’t hit a home run since June 15. Well, that streak ended with a go-ahead grand slam to left field that gave the Cubs a brief lead.
The Padres tied things up in the 5th with a double from Francisco Mejia, but Báez answered right back with solo shot to right in the Cubs’ next turn. The 5-4 lead held until the 8th inning, when pinch-hitter Josh Naylor took Pedro Strop deep.
Chicago took the lead for good in the 8th with the help of the Friars’ defense. Rizzo singled and Addison Russell appeared to hit a double-play grounder to short. Fernando Tatis Jr. fielded it cleanly but fired wide of Greg Garcia at second and the ball rolled to the outfield, allowing both runners to advance.
Jason Heyward was intentionally walked to load the bases for David Bote, who grounded softly into a force out at home. Padres catcher Mejia inexplicably fired to first and the ball trickled through Eric Hosmer‘s legs to allow Russell to score the winning run. Craig Kimbrel came on and struck out the side to earn the save. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
This was a tough game for all involved, with a heat index topping 100 degrees. Lester also did a good job limiting early damage to keep his team in it and the Cubs scratched out just enough of a lead to turn over to Kimbrel.
Rizzo picked a very good time to break his homer drought. The Cubs were yet again facing a quick deficit, so completely reversing the score with one swing was huge.
Stats That Matter
- Lester gave up a lot of hits, but most were singles: 6 IP, 4 R, 12 H, 6 K, 0 BB. When you give up 12 knocks, walking no one is a very good idea.
- Rizzo got on base three more times Friday and has really been coming on in the second half.
- Strop just doesn’t seem locked in this year, perhaps because earlier injuries have him out of rhythm. Whatever the reason, Joe Maddon may need to use him in a bit lower-leverage role for a bit.
While it might not have been a thing of beauty, a win is a win. The Cubs are back to nine games over the .500 mark.
Game two of the series is Saturday at 1:20pm CT and features another pair of lefties, with Joey Lucchesi and José Quintana taking the bump for their respective squads. ABC-7 has the television coverage and 670 The Score has the radio feed.