The Cubs’ bats seemed stuck against Milwaukee, but turns out all they needed was a dose Mariners pitching. Chicago pounded Seattle for a second straight game to sweep the mini-series behind a pair of big returns.
Jon Lester ran into a bit of trouble in the 1st inning when a single and two walks loaded the bases with one out. The big lefty got a fly out and struck out former Cub Ryan Court to end the threat. Willson Contreras announced his return with style, blasting a solo homer off of Félix Hernández in the 2nd to give the Cubs an early lead.
A Nicholas Castellanos sacrifice fly in the 3rd made it 2-0, all the offense the Cubs would need. Lester had more traffic on the bases all night, but kept the M’s off the board. Chicago broke it open in the 5th when Ben Zobrist bunted for a hit and Kyle Schwarber singled to put two on. Castellanos launched a three-run homer to right field to put his team up five.
Why the Cubs Won
The offense looked much more complete with Contreras and Zobrist back in the fold. Lester was able to pitch around the baserunners he has allowed and made the Cubs’ runs stand up.
Had the Mariners been able to take advantage of their big chance in the 1st, things may have been different. Lester bore down and escaped the jam and the rest was relatively easy.
Stats That Matter
- Lester allowed a ton of runners again Tuesday: 6 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 9 K, and 4 BB. It was a high-wire act all night, but he got the job done.
- Schwarber has been red-hot and had three more hits in this game. It’s especially nice to see him going the opposite way more often.
- Zobrist reached base twice and scored twice. If he can do that consistently, he will be a good option in the leadoff spot.
- Castellanos had four more runs batted in and hit his 12th homer as a Cub.
The Cubs were able to take care of business against a really horrible team. It was much needed, but the return of Contreras and Zobrist is a bigger deal. The lineup becomes much longer with them involved.
The Cubs start a crucial four-game set in Milwaukee at 6:10pm CT on Thursday as José Quintana takes on Chase Anderson in a rematch of Friday afternoon’s win. NBC Sports Chicago and MLB Network (out-of-market) have the TV coverage, with 670 The Score on the radio feed.