Cool weather. The wind was blowing out to centerfield. The type of game the Chicago Cubs could end up in a home run derby. But Cole Hamels had other plans.
When pitchers walk into Wrigley Field to play the Chicago Cubs, most say the first thing they do is look at the flags. In this case, just Old Glory. All the other flags were taken down for safety reasons, and it was blowing straight out to center field at 19 mph. This was the type of game where you anticipate the last home run to win. That turned out to be true. The Cubs hit four of them en route to a 5-1 victory.
Fans were disappointed to find out that they wouldn’t see Mike Trout in this series as he’s nursing a sore groin. He didn’t even make the trip to Chicago and was going to be reevaluated for Sunday’s game. Rain is expected, not a good mix with a sore groin. So the Angels team Cole Hamels faced wasn’t their best, but you still have to execute. After watching Jose Quintana the night before, he did his best to top that.
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Hamels was effective at changing speeds, staying low in the zone and forcing ground ball after ground ball. His only ‘mistake’ was to Albert Pujols who took a pitch he shouldn’t have out to left. It was a great pitch. But he’s Pujols. This is Wrigley Field, the Cubs and he finds a way.
Hamels finished with eight innings of one-run baseball, the lone Pujols home run his only blemish. He struck out six and allowed just four hits. Reminder: the wind was blowing OUT to center field at 19 mph.
The Cubs had no issues getting to Tyler Skaggs. It started with a home run from Anthony Rizzo that just missed going onto Sheffield. Willson Contreras followed later with one that did make it onto Waveland. David Bote went yard, a ‘short blast,’ for 417 feet. Contreras then hit his second of the game in the sixth, again onto Waveland. All four blasts totaled over 1,700 feet.
Hamels and Quintana have combined for 15 innings of one-run baseball in the last two games for the starters. The bullpen extended their scoreless streak to 18 1/3 innings with Brandon Kintzler‘s inning of work.
The offense is operating at full, even though some players numbers don’t impress. It’s a different guy (Well, Contreras seems to be EVERY day) coming through. But the offense is no longer broken, and it looks like the early jitters that made their way through the pitching staff are gone.