Cubs Record: 26-8 (1st Place NL Central)
W: Jason Hammel (5-0, 1.77)
L: Francisco Liriano (3-2, 4.99)
MVP: Jason Hammel: 6.2IP, 2R, 1ER, 8H, 8K, 2BB
After their first consecutive losses of the season the Cubs looked to rebound against the second-place Pirates. The weather at Wrigley favored the offense today and the Cubs took full advantage, launching three home runs. Jason Hammel continued his strong start to the season, going 6.2 solid innings.
The Cubs entered today’s game in the midst of a 14-inning scoreless streak that would continue for the first three innings. But the first two Cubs batters reached to begin the 4th inning and Addison Russell then cleared the bases with a towering three-run shot to left field.
The Cubs played add-on in the fifth inning when Kris Bryant hit a two-run homer to kick off the rally against former Cubs-killer Francisco Liriano. Grandpa Rossy then added the exclamation point, a three-run bomb to left to effectively put the game out of reach. Jason Hammel and the Cubs pen handled the rest and the Cubs cruised to a 9-4 victory.
Hammel was very good today for the Cubs. When his slider is on, Hammel can be very tough to hit. That slider was in fine form today, much to the chagrin of the Pirates lineup. The Cubs starter pitched 6.2 innings, the longest he’s gone all season (Maddon has had a quick hook with him in the season’s early weeks). With the Cubs offense rolling like it is, outings like this should produce a few wins.
Jason Heyward and Jorge Soler have been the subject of much hand-wringing of late, but Friday was a good day for both of the Cubs struggling outfielders. Heyward reached base three times (via two walks and a base hit) and Soler added a hit and a walk while working several 3-2 counts. If either can get hot, it would be a huge boost for the Cubs.
Russell is on an absolute tear of late and has been driving the ball with authority this home stand. With his jack today, Addy has 25 RBI’s on the season. It appears Russell is really coming into his own in his second season in Chicago.
When Ross cranked a massive home run into the left field bleachers in the fifth inning, a young, athletic-looking bleacher bum appeared to settle under the ball. Easy catch, right? Wrong. Disaster struck as the ball clanged off his hands and sent him tumbling backwards. Attention fans: the Cubs are going to be hitting a lot of home runs this season and being a resident of the bleachers comes with responsibility. Practice shagging those flies people, we’re all counting on you.
Francisco Liriano had a rough fifth inning today for Pittsburgh. He faced seven batters in the fifth, with five scoring on two long homers. After years spent abusing weak Cubs lineups, Liriano got to see how the other half lives. And I, for one, loved every bit of it. These aren’t your same old Cubs.
Cubs ace Jake Arrieta (6-0, 1.13) does battle with lefty Jeff Locke (1-2, 4.68) Saturday afternoon at 1:20 CST. Arrieta was uncharacteristically hittable in his last start, so hopefully he can bounce back and clinch the series for Chicago.