Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
On the eve of the 100th birthday celebration at Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs went back to the basics and won a ball game old style.
Or maybe “Olt-Style”, if you prefer?
Pitching and defense are what gets you wins, and the Cubs displayed both in spades tonight. Jason Hammel (3-1) went seven innings giving up only one run on four hits. Starlin Castro contributed a couple of defensive gems in the eighth inning – one to his right and one to his left. Mike Olt had a leaping grab of a line drive headed for the corner to finish the third inning. And it Olt’s jolt that brought it all full circle.
Olt hit his fourth home run of the year – a three-run shot – in a four-run fifth that put the Cubs up 5-0. It was a line drive shot to the right field bleachers on a predictable 3-1 fastball. His average (.195) is not high, but his power numbers are looking good for a team that needs as much offensive help as it can get. Olt’s four home runs are a team-best.
Hammel was the other star of the night – gaining the win after another stellar outing that diminished his ERA to 2.60. He threw 107 pitches and was in the zone all night – walking none for the first time this season.
Patience even played a part. Luis Valbuena batted five times and saw a total of 40 pitches – the last of which walked Valbuena with the bases loaded to kick start a four-run eighth. His walk put the Cubs up 6-1. A two-run single from Justin Ruggiano and an RBI single from Anthony Rizzo made it 9-1. It finished 9-2.
Justin Grimm pitched a hitless eighth and Blake Parker pitched the ninth to wrap up a win that gives the Cubs their longest win streak of the year – two. The fans tonight got to sing, “Go, Cubs, Go!”
The fans in attendance tomorrow will get to sing “Happy Birthday” to the Cubs venerable home on it’s 100th birthday. Jeff Samardzija (0-2, 1.29 ERA) will head to the mound to try to get his first win against the Diamondbacks who are now a league-worst 5-18. Wade Miley (2-2, 4.35 ERA) will get the start for Arizona. It should be a great Opening Day-like feel to tomorrow’s ball game.