Cubs vs White Sox Series Review: Cubs Salvage Split Against Crosstown Foes

Two game series are kind of weird, aren’t they? A split is very often the outcome and a split feels so unsatisfying. It’s hard to get too bent out of shape about a split, even against a team you theoretically should beat like the White Sox, but it’s not really anything to get excited about either. Nothing gained, nothing lost…right?

Well, not exactly. The Cubs did gain something with their split: sole possession of first place in the Central. Sure, the Brewers getting swept by the Padres certainly contributed to that end, but it’s still first place, journey be damned. I’ll take it and I suspect the Cubs will too.

In and of itself though, this pair of games felt pretty forgettable. The defining highlight of the series came in the first game and belonged to the White Sox, as Eloy Jiménez came to Wrigley Field and blasted a game-winning home run that was fueled as much by his bat as it was by narrative destiny.

Wednesday’s game featured a more exciting day on offense for the Cubs. Willson Contreras slammed two home home runs and David Bote added one too. That’s three Cubs home runs if you’re counting, all of which came against otherworldly Lucas Giolito.

A shaky Jon Lester gave way to a pretty solid Cubs bullpen effort that included a strong collective outing by Kyle Ryan, Brad Brach, and Mike Montgomery. That trio hasn’t exactly inspired a ton of confidence lately, so they deserve some kudos for getting the job done on Wednesday. Steve Cishek locked down the game in the 9th.


Key moments

Tuesday’s game was a frustrating one as the Cubs weren’t able to get anything going on offense after Kyle Schwarber’s leadoff home run. Jimenez’s homer was the real key, but we don’t really to dig into that anymore than we already have, do we?

Instead, let’s focus on Cole Hamels, who was simply masterful. In addition to pitching another great game (more on that later), he recorded his 2,500th career strikeout.

A great moment for a great dude.

Onto Wednesday’s game. As I’m sure you already know, one of those Contreras home runs mentioned earlier in this post was his 1st-inning grand slam. It was an awesome sight because Cubs grand slams are always awesome sights, but It was additionally awesome because of the catcher’s energy as he rounded the bases.

It’s hard not to feel pumped up when he is pumped up, isn’t it? I’d follow him anywhere I’m reasonably sure most of you would do the same.

Who’s hot

  • Hamels deserved far better than he got in Tuesday’s loss. He went seven strong innings, something he’s now done in four straight starts dating back to his June 2 effort against the Cardinals, and he’s given up only a single earned run over that time. Hamels is a borderline Hall of Famer and this very well might be the best four-start stretch of his career, so enjoy the heck out of it.
  • Schwarber led off both games of the series with an extra-base hit, following up Tuesday’s leadoff home run with a screaming double on a first-pitch fastball Wednesday night. He also drove in an insurance run with an 8th inning double on Wednesday. Good stuff!

Who’s not

  • Things aren’t going so well for Lester right now. He gutted through 5.2 innings Wednesday, giving up three runs in the process, but his ERA sits well over 5.00 over his last seven starts. Lester’s definitely gone through stretches like this over the past few years, so this isn’t exactly a new experience. It isn’t fun, but if history is any indication it’ll come to an end at some point.

Bottom line

With all that said, we’re back to where we started, which is saying that a split is fine. It’s fine! There are shades of fine, though. A split that gets you into first place is the about as good as fine can get.

Oh, one other thing about this series. If you tuned into the White Sox broadcast, you heard something a little different than you had in years past: a tolerable broadcast booth. The always entertaining and highly competent Jason Benetti is in his first full season as the lead play-by-play voice and if you happened to be stuck with the Sox feed for either of these games, it was a refreshing change to say the least.

As for the old guy? He gone.

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