Coming off a monstrous offensive performance this past weekend, the Cubs (82-68) wasted no time jumping on the Reds (70-81) as Kyle Schwarber hit a three run bomb in the bottom of the 1st en route to an 8-2 win at Wrigley Field.
As noted, Schwarber put the Cubs on the board in the 1st after Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant both singled off Reds starter Kevin Gausman. It was the 37th on the year for Schwarber to go with his 88 RBI. He also did a good job stepping in as the “donkey” in the middle of the lineup without injured leader Anthony Rizzo.
Armed with a 3-0 lead, Cubs starter Cole Hamels proceeded give some runs back. In the top of the 3rd, Hamels hit a batter, gave up a single, and issued two walks in between striking out the side. He labored through the inning, but managed to escape with a 3-1 lead after striking out Michael Lorenzen to end the frame.
When Hamels struggled again in the 4th inning, allowing the first two batters of the inning to reach base, Joe Maddon quickly went to his pen and brought in Steve Cishek. The sidewinder conjured some bad thoughts when he walked the first batter, but he got Philip Ervin to hit a sac fly and struck out 2019 Cub-killer Eugenio Suárez to end the threat.
While the Reds would be done scoring after their two runs, the Cubs didn’t stop at 3-2. In the bottom of the 6th, Willson Contreras led off with a single to right and Victor Caratini was then hit with a pitch. Jason Heyward, looking like a new man now that he’s not hitting leadoff, smacked an RBI double in the left-center gap over the head of Lorenzen to put the Cubs up 4-2. After two groundouts, Zobrist found a good landing spot for an RBI single in shallow left field, scoring Caratini and making it 5-2 Cubs.
They didn’t need to add any more as the bullpen was mowing down Reds hitters, but the Cubs added three more in the 8th to put it out of reach. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs Won
While they didn’t put up a football score in this one, eight runs usually gets the job done. The Cubs scored early via the long ball and then continued to add on throughout the game. The bullpen was also lights-out on a night where Hamels gave them only 3.1 IP.
Schwarber’s three run bomb in the 1st inning got things cooking right off the bat and it was all the scoring the Cubs would need.
Stats That Matter
- Hamels went just 3.1 IP and looked off yet again. He only gave up two runs, but had five walks and just hasn’t been right since coming back from his oblique issue.
- Zobrist had no problem taking back over for Rizzo in the top spot as he went 2-for-4 on the night.
- Heyward and Bryant each had a hit and two walks on the night. They both look completely different from a week ago when Heyward was struggling in the leadoff spot and Bryant was dealing with knee soreness. A move down in the order and cortisone shot did wonders for these two.
- He only had one hit, but Big Nick Energy did add his 55th double of the season in quasi-garbage time in the 8th inning.
- The Cubs’ bullpen picked up Hamels in a big way, throwing 5.2 IP of shutout ball.
The Cubs continue to beat up on the teams they’re supposed to and keep winning. They took care of the Pirates over the weekend and the Reds tonight. If they keep putting up runs at this rate, the Cardinals are going to have a tough time holding them off, even if they keep beating everyone else. As many have already posited, the NL Central will come down to the last seven games between the Cubs and Cards. Would you have it any other way?
The last series of the year with the Reds continues tomorrow at 7:05pm CT. Yu Darvish takes on right-hander Sonny Gray in the best pitching matchup of the series. The game will be televised by ABC-7 and ESPN. 670 The Score will carry the game on the radio if you prefer or can’t get in front of a screen.