Jason Hammel was solid tonight, pitching how you’d like to see a guy pitch with a big lead, at least until he ran into a little trouble later in the game. Still, all in all, a very encouraging outing.
The wheels came off for the Cubs in the 7th, with Hammel walking two and allowing a two-run homer to Randal Grichuk (whom I thought was unable to bat right now due to an elbow issue … ), and then Justin Grimm and Pedro Strop combining to allow another three runs to score.
But that’s the nice thing about building an eight-run lead. The wheels can come off for an inning, and you can still win. Fernando Rodney pitched the 8th inning – and once again looked good doing it (I’m thinking he’s now officially in a high-leverage role, which is remarkable) – and Hector Rondon closed it down in the 9th.
The Cubs’ bats erupted early, as they did yesterday, with Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro homering, and the rest of the crew adding on from there. The defense was solid, too, with Javy Baez, in particular, playing fantastic defense at third.
Kyle Schwarber was able to pinch hit, by the way, which is a good sign.