The Chicago Cubs finished the week with a .500 record, and did it against divisional opponents. There was strong pitching and they did a better job with runners in scoring position, and overall were competitive and in every ballgame.
Team Recap: 3-3 for the week, Season: 15-27, Last in NL Central
Things were looking good when the Cubs opened the week with a 17-5 drubbing of the rival St. Louis Cardinals Monday. Junior Lake knocked in a career-high six runs for the Cubs in the offensive explosion.
The wheels came off when the Cubs couldn’t support Jeff Samardzija with enough runs as his winless streak continued. While not his strongest outing, it was good enough to give him a chance.
Heading into St. Louis to play the Cardinals, then putting up 17 on them in their home park. There may not be a better feeling to Cubs fans right now. Lake provided most of the support, and Mike Olt continued to show his power hitting his eight home run of the year. While Travis Wood wasn’t at his best, he really didn’t have to be.
The Cubs dropped a heartbreaker in the second game of the series. After rallying to tie it in top of the ninth, Cubs reliever Justin Grimm loaded the bases, and eventually plunked Greg Garcia with a pitch forcing in the winning run in the 12th.
After game three was postponed due to rain, the Cubs turned to Jason Hammel to get the series win. But Hammel had one of his worst outings of the season, allowing a four-run second as the Cubs fell to the Cards 5-3.
Unfortunately for Samardzija, the Cubs couldn’t duplicate the offensive output from the St. Louis opener. Poor defense led to a high pitch count and he departed after only five innings of work. The Cubs would drop the contest 4-3. To give you an idea, in the 10 games Samardzija has started, the Cubs have scored a total of 18 runs. And 11 of those came in two outings where he didn’t factor in the decision.
The Cubs were able to close out the series against Milwaukee with 3-0 shutout and a 4-2 win on Sunday. Edwin Jackson continued his nice stretch striking out 11 in seven innings in the shutout win. Travis Wood followed in the series finale with another quality start, and Hector Rondon closed out the game for the second day in a row, earning save number five in five chances.
Players of the Week
Edwin Jackson - 13 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 3 BB/14 k
Jackson catches a lot of grief for his contract compared to his numbers, but lately he has been the pitcher the Cubs thought they were getting when they signed him. He has been avoiding the bad early inning, and pitching deeper in the games. While in the eyes of most Cubs fans he’s still a bad signing, the improvement is still welcome.
Junior Lake – .316 (6/19), 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 K
While Lake did most of his damage in the opener against St. Louis, he’s continued to improve at the plate. Showing more patience and finding himself in better hitter’s counts, Lake is cutting down on his strikeout numbers. However, his defense continues to be an adventure, but after being converted from the infield it will take time.