The Chicago Cubs (10-8) split their series with the Baltimore Orioles (6-12) on Jackie Robinson Day at Camden Yards, thanks to a home run by Anthony Rizzo and a sterling performance from left-hander Jon Lester. Rizzo hit a two-run homer off of Orioles pitcher Ty Blach in the 3rd inning and the Cubs never looked back in the 3-1 simulation victory, via MLB The Show 20.
Lester bounced back well from his last outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he went five shutout innings before allowing four runs – two of them earned – in his final 2/3 of an inning of work. Against Baltimore, Lester went 6 1/3 innings and allowed just on earned run on four hits and a walk while striking out seven.
The lone run the Orioles tallied against Lester came in the bottom of the 4th when Hanser Alberto hit a one-out, solo homer to left field. Ah, but the Cubs had already taken the lead and would never relinquish it. With one out in the top of the 3rd, Kris Bryant hit a sharp single just out of the reach of the third baseman. That brought up Rizzo to face the left-handed Blach, and the next pitch ended up in the seats in center field.
Rizzo’s home run was his sixth on the season and his second off a left-handed starter, with the first coming against Robbie Ray of the Arizona Diamondbacks. In total, Rizzo was 2-for-5 with the home run and two RBI in the game against Baltimore.
The Cubs added another run in the top of the 8th when Javier Baez tripled with two out and Willson Contreras knocked an RBI single up the middle into center field. There was a play at the plate, but Baez was able to do his patented swim-move to get around the tag from the catcher and score the insurance run.
When David Ross finally chose to pull Lester with one out in the 7th, he went to Rowan Wick. The right-hander has been shaky of late, but he was able to close out the inning with one strikeout and zero drama. Jeremy Jeffress pitched a perfect 8th, setting up Craig Kimbrel. The Cubs closer was also unscathed, throwing 10 pitches to get three quick outs.
Notes: Albert Almora Jr. had to leave the game in the fifth with a sprained ankle. Jason Heyward replaced him in center and went 0-for-2. Almora was placed on the 10-day injured list after the game and outfielder Ian Miller was recalled from Triple-A Iowa. Miller was hitting .267 with one home run and four stolen bases in 38 at-bats at Des Moines.
Rizzo – 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI
Contreras – 3-for-5, RBI
Báez – 1-for-4, 3B, R
Happ – 2-for-4, 2B
Lester – 6 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 7 K
Alberto – 1-for-4, HR, RBI
Núñez – 1-for-4, 2B
Winning Pitcher – Lester (1-2)
Losing Pitcher – Blach (0-3)
Save – Kimbrel (5)
Home Runs – Rizzo (6), Alberto (2)