Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Junior Lake had his first two-homer game of his career to lift the Chicago Cubs to a 5-2 win over the Marlins and their fifth straight win at Wrigley Field on Saturday.
What a difference a strong bullpen can make. It’s an old adage – but it age old. Add in some clutch hitting from one of the “baby” Cubs and what you get is a season-high five game win streak.
Cubs’ starter Jeff Samardzija (2-5, 2.54) was spot on and was in control all day. He yielded only five hits while striking out eight over seven innings that ultimately resulted in his first home win since last August – but his ERA at home this season was 1.49. After going nearly the first two months without a win, he now has won two of his last three decisions.
Emilio Bonifacio‘s home run was a two-run shot that put the Cubs up 2-1 in the third. It was only his third career home run off a left-handed pitcher.
Veteran Randy Wolf (1-2, 4.15) took the loss for the Marlins (32-30), giving up four earned runs in five and two-thirds innings – and surrendering both Bonifacio’s home run and Lake’s first shot of the day.
Lake’s second shot was a towering shot to left off right-hander Chris Hatcher in the seventh that made it 5-2, where it stayed the rest of the day – thanks to another great day from the Cubs’ bullpen.
Over the course of this five-game win streak, for the first time this season, Cub fans have not been waiting for the roof to cave in thanks to another bullpen implosion. Friday Hector Rondon gave up three bloop singles in the midst of losing a 3-0 lead.
The good news is, that the blown save yesterday was the only negative blip on a very smooth radar this week in the bullpen. Strong starting pitching combined with a stellar bullpen and young hitters that are finding their stride has given us the best stretch of Cub baseball that we’ve seen in quite a while.
They look to roll to a season-high six wins in a row tomorrow by sending Jake Arrieta (1-1, 3.00) to the mound – five days after pitching on the night the streak started. He went into the fifth inning and pitched well in a game the Cubs would eventually walk-off and win 2-1 over the Mets. The Marlins will try to salvage the finale by going with Henderson Alvarez (3-3, 2.62). The Fish are now only 10-19 away from home this season – and have the biggest split between home and road win percentage in the lead. They have the best home record in all of baseball at 22-11 – nearly .300 points better than their .345 road win percentage.