Chicago Cubs Recap: Hammel does it all in 2-1 series win over the Cardinals
For the fourth time this season, the Chicago Cubs claimed yet another series win. Last night, John Lackey shut down the St. Louis Cardinals through seven strong innings of work, making way for right-hander Jason Hammel. Not only did he pick up the win but came through with his bat.
As expected, this match-up between the Chicago Cubs (11-3) and St. Louis Cardinals (7-7) was a heavyweight fight. There wasn’t a ton of offense but the North Siders received run support from someone who wasn’t Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler or even Addison Russell. Let’s get this recap started.
Let’s get this recap started.
After dominating the Cincinnati Reds in his previous outing, Jason Hammel entered the night with an impressive 0.75 earned run average. Hammel (2-0, 1.00 ERA) continued to shine on the mound, holding the Cardinals to one earned run on five hits while issuing zero free passes and striking out five through six strong innings of work.
His one run lead was kept intact by another strong bullpen appearance that has been lights out.
The Cubs started things off with Dexter Fowler in scoring position after drawing a leadoff walk with former Cardinal Jason Heyward due up behind him. Heyward was booed, yet again and like yesterday, he was kept hitless following a couple of spectacular defensive plays by second baseman Kolton Wong who robbed him of two hits.
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In his first at-bat, Heyward lined a pitch right past the pitcher’s mound where shortstop Ruben Tejada managed to knock it down. I assumed he made the catch but the ball hit the dirt, resulting in him tossing it over to Wong to record the force out at second.
He did, however, make more defensive players by preventing the Cardinals from tying it up in the fourth on what could have been a sacrifice fly. Heward got behind a pitch off the bat of Matt Holliday, rocketing a throw to home plate to nab Matt Adams at home.
Despite picking up the win, Chicago managed to tally only five hits in the ballgame, two less than what the Cardinals were able to record. Veteran catcher Yadier Molina, who has always been a thorn in the side of this club, drove in his team’s first run of the series during the home half of the second.
Molina sent a pitch out to deep left field that bounced off the wall, a few feet away from left-fielder Jorge Soler who attempted to make a leaping grab right up against the fence. Soler fell to the ground as Fowler raced over to get the ball back into the infield where Molina would slide into third with a triple.
Southpaw Jaime Garcia had his changeup working today, tallying up seven strikeouts following a 13 k performance in his previous outing for the Cardinals. Garcia (1-1, 2.70 ERA) held this offense to two earned runs on four hits and walked another four through five.
Two of those walks were issued with the Cubs at the dish in the fourth. Soler started it out with a one-out walk and later advanced to third on back-to-back singles by Ben Zobrist and Miguel Montero. Moments after shortstop Addison Russell struck out swinging, Hammel stepped into the batter’s box with the bases loaded.
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Jason drove in two runs on a chopper that bounced between third and short, giving the Cubs their first and deciding lead of the ballgame. Hammel is sixth Cubs pitcher in franchise history to drive in all of their runs on top of picking up the win. The list includes Greg Maddox, Jun Pizarro, Larry Jackson, Carlos Zambrano and Dick Ellsworth.
Next up, right-hander Kyle Hendricks will have the opportunity to pick up the sweep and extend the Chicago Cubs lead in the National League Central. This time, it’ll be an afternoon game in the series finale.