1908, Black cats, Bartman…those are some of the many things that Cubs fans have heard over the years but this year’s Cubs are providing real hope and it’s very hard to find flaws in this team. With a 41-17 record, the Cubs have dominated in a lot of areas. It is way too early to tab the Cubs as the team to beat for the World Series title, in my opinion. There is still a lot of baseball left in the season, and a lengthy losing streak or injuries could quickly derail them (not that I want to be negative) but this season feels so different. Let’s continue to enjoy it! And while we wait for the MLB Draft to begin, let’s take a look at the three game series recap vs. the Phillies:
Cubs @ Phillies
Cubs 6, Phillies 4
W: Lester (7-3) L: Morgan (1-5) SV: Rondon (11)
Jon Lester dominated for eight innings, and the Cubs bullpen was just good enough for yet another victory. Lester improved to 6-0 in eight career starts against the Phillies while lowering his ERA against them to 1.46. He struck out nine, walked none and allowed four hits. The Phillies scored all of their runs in the ninth after Lester was pulled for the last inning. Justin Grimm came in to relieve Jon Lester and gave up a pair of singles and then a three-run homer to Freddy Galvis; without recording an out. Cubs’ closer Hector Rondon had to come in and allowed another home run…a solo shot to Tommy Joseph. Rondon then was able to get two quick outs before Odubel Herrera‘s pinch-hit single brought the tying run to the plate but he got Ryan Howard to ground out to earn his 11th save. Adam Morgan gave up three runs on eight hits in six innings to lose his fifth straight start. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler each had three hits for the Cubs, Bryant had a pair of doubles and an RBI and Rizzo drove in two runs. Jason Heyward added a solo homer, his third homer of the season. The Cubs did lose Jorge Soler, who left the game after singling to left field in the third inning. Soler injured his left hamstring while running the bases. We know now that they have placed him on the 15-day disabled list because of a left hamstring strain and selected the contract of prospect Albert Almora Jr! This might be a short stint for Almora but it will be fun to see him out there with the club.
Phillies 3, Cubs 2
W: Eickhoff (3-8) L: Hendricks (4-5) SV: Gomez (19)
Phillies’ starter Jerad Eickhoff delivered a great outing for his team. He allowed just two hits, one run, two walks and struck out eight over seven innings. Jeanmar Gomez pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and got the final six outs for his 19th. save. The Cubs offense just wasn’t there for this game, with their best chance coming in the eighth. Trailing 3-1, the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs against Hector Neris but was replaced by Gomez, who retired Dexter Fowler on a sacrifice fly allowing Matt Szczur to score and make it a one run game. Jason Heyward then grounded into a double play started by second baseman Andres Blanco, who made an excellent grab on the sharply hit ball and flipped it to shortstop Freddy Galvis. Ryan Howard hit his ninth homer of the season to make it 2-0 in the fourth. It was the first time he started since a fan threw a plastic beer bottle at him after Saturday’s game. This was his 366th. career homer, which ties him with Lance Berkman for 80th. on the all-time list. Kyle Hendricks had a strong but short outing. Hendricks struck out six and walked two, allowing only four hits. But the two runs he allowed were the most the Phillies have scored off a Cubs starter this season. In five starts, Cubs starting pitchers have posted a 1.27 ERA against the Phillies. Hendricks was lifted after only five innings and 81 pitches. Albert Almora, making his MLB debut to make it four first round picks in a row making the Show, pinch-hit for Hendricks to lead off the sixth and grounded out.
Cubs 8, Phillies 1
W: Lackey (7-2) L: Oberholtzer (2-1)
Say what you want about John Lackey but when it comes to baseball, he has been giving the Cubs great start after great start. Lackey struck out eight in seven dominant innings, he gave up three hits and extended his scoreless streak to 13 2/3 innings. Phillies starter Vince Velasquez left the game after getting one out because of right biceps soreness. Velasquez only threw two pitches. Brett Oberholtzer replaced him and allowed one unearned run on four hits, in four innings of work. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist both hit homers to back up Lackey. Bryant hit his 14th. homer off Andrew Bailey in the sixth, a two-run shot out to left. Zobrist hit another one out later to make it 4-0. The Cubs tacked on four more runs off Colton Murray in the eighth to extend the lead. The Phillies’ best chance came in the first after consecutive singles by Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez. The Phillies had runners on first and third. Herrera tried to score on Freddy Galvis’ shallow fly, but left fielder Albert Almora Jr. threw him out by several feet. Almora also had his first MLB hit, an RBI single off pitcher Colton Murray in the eighth.
Next up for the Cubs:
*Following a day off, the Cubs travel to Atlanta to take on the Braves for a three-game series. The Cubs finished the season series with the Phillies with a 5-1 record, which is pretty good. The Braves did split a rain-shortened series (with a game to be made-up) at Wrigley last month, but are so bad at baseball that we feel confident the Cubs will win this one, even if baseball does happen sometimes.
Chicago Cubs @ Atlanta Braves
Sunday, June 12, 12:35 PM CDT, Turner Field
Jon Lester, LHP v. TBA
TV: WGN Radio: 670 The Score
Thanks for reading and as always, Go Cubs!