Jon Lester pitched a gem and Austin Jackson drove in 5 to lead the Cubs to a 10-3 victory over the Reds tonight.
The Cubs went 8 for 22 with runners in scoring position (.364 AVG) and this was something Joe Maddon wanted to focus on, saying after yesterday’s game that the Cubs left too many men on base. I would say that tonight’s game would show progress in that area, as they didn’t miss out on many chances to get some runs scored against the Reds.
Jon Lester surrendered a run in the 1st inning on 2 hits, but then settled down and was completely in control for the rest of the game. He went 8 innings and gave up just 3 hits with no walks and 9 Ks, giving him a franchise record for Ks by a lefty-starter with 207 in 205 innings pitched. He retired the final 20 batters he faced while he improved to 11-12 on the year with a 3.34 ERA. Lester also contributed at the plate with a single and a walk and 2 runs scored
Austin Jackson came through with big hits all night and had 4 RBI with 2 outs. He finished the day 3 for 5 with 5 RBI, including 2 run-scoring doubles and an RBI single. He now has 25 doubles on the year and 45 RBI with a .266 AVG.
Starlin Castro had a huge game, going 4 for 5 with an RBI double (21st) and a solo HR (his 11th). He all the way up to .269 on the year with 68 RBI on the year. He is hitting .426 in September and also made a heck of a defensive play today at 2nd base.
Addison Russell got the job done with the lumber and with his wheels today. He went 3 for 5 with his 27th double and 2 RBI (53 RBI), while stealing 2nd base twice (giving him 4 SBs on the year). He has had a little more rest than some of the other everyday starters this month and it would seem that he is responding well.
There was nothing bad about this dominant win tonight, but it was unfortunate that the Pirates were able to get one of the games from the Cardinals today. The Cubs now need the Reds to beat the Pirates twice this weekend with the Cubs winning their final 4 games in order to catch the Pirates. If the Cubs can tie the Pirates they will get to host the game thanks to the better head-to-head record.
The Reds winning 2 games out of 3 at this point may be a little bit too much to ask for though. They are really scuffling and have lost 11 in a row, so the hope of the Cubs hosting the Wild-Card game is fleeting for sure.
The Cubs will finish their 3-game series with the Reds tomorrow at 11:35 PM (CST) on CSN and the MLB Network. Jason Hammel (9-7, 3.86) will get the start for the Cubs against John Lamb (1-4, 5.40) for the Reds. Hammel has surrendered at least 3 runs in 6 straight starts and will need to perform well tomorrow if he wants a chance to be part of a post-season rotation with Kyle Hendricks and Dan Haren getting great starts this week.