An incredible history of the Chicago Cubs #5
The Cubs ended the month of May on a sour note. Jake Arrieta, their ace, ended a streak of 23 wins. Ironically, for the LA Dodgers, ir was almost a mirror performance of the game the day before. In that game, 30th May, Cub pitchers gave up one hit and no walks and recorded 11 SO sending five pitchers to the mound and the Cubs win 2-0. On Tuesday, 31st May, the Dodgers pitchers gave up one hit and one walk. Arrieta for his part, once again turned in a superb performance pitching seven innings, giving up two hits and no runs and struck out eight. He was lifted in the 8th inning and LA went on to get six more hits and five runs over the final two innings. They win 5-0.
Cubs end May with 35 wins and 15 losses.
But they were back to their winning ways on the 1st of June when Jon Lester pitches a complete game, gives up four hits, 10 SOs and issues no walks. Cubs win 2-1 on Rizzo two run home run. The Cubs got only three hits. Way to go!
3rd June: Lackey is on the mound for the Cubs. He strikes out nine over 6.2 innings... Struck out nine over 6.2 innings and beat the Diamondbacks, 6-0. Chicago now has the unusual distinction in that all five of their starting pitchers boast an ERA under 3.00. As of this date, the Cubs have won nine of their last 10 games.
6th June: Cubs win 6-4 over the Phillies. Lester gets the win and he pitched superbly going eight innings, striking out nine and allowed only four to reach base. He left the game after pitching 113 pitches. The relief pitchers gave up four runs in the final inning. Fowler was 3-for-4 for the Cubs and Bryant 3-for-5; Rizzo also 3-for=5 and Soler 2- for-2.
8th June: Cubs come off a 3-2 loss to Phillies in an 8-1 win over them in the next game. Lackey allowed just three hits, struckout eight in seven scoreless innings and retired the final 16 batters in order. Bryant and Zobrist each homered. The Phillies manager said of the loss, "Well, the good news is we don't have to see the Cubs for the rest of the year". Cubs at 41-17.
11th June: Arrieta was back to his winning ways with a little help from the troops. Bryant, Rizzo, Heyward and Montero all homered. Arrieta becomes the National Leagues first 10 game winner. Oh yeah, the Miracle Man helped his own cause with two hits and scored a run on Fowler's double. As of this game, Bryant has 45 RBIs, second most in the NL; Rizzo has 44 RBIs, third most in the league. W-L: 42-18
12th June: Jon Lester is now earning his big-bucks. He won his fourth in a row and is now 8-3 on the season. Rizzo collected three RBI's and Baez hit a three run homer. Cubs punish the Atlanta Braves scoring 13 runs to their 2. More good news was that Heyward, who has been off to a slow start, went 3-for-4 and raised his batting average to .240%.
13th June: Max Scherzer, of the Washington Nationals, pitches seven innings and gets 11 SO, allows two hits and one run. He pitched a perfect game going into the fifth innning but A Russell spoiled it all with a HR.
14th June: The Cub's bullpen has the fewest numer of innings pitched in the National League because of their outstanding starters. Tuesday was the 18th staight game in which a Chicago starter gave up three or fewer runs; and the rotation has now a collective 1.69 ERA during the streak with an 11-4 record. The primary closer Hector Rondon came in in the 8th inning with a runner at first and one out and the Cubs with a one run lead. He did give up a run to tie the game, but held firm in the 9th after the rookie Albert Amora Jr delievered an RBI double in the same inning with Russell on second. Lackey started for the Cubs, pitched six innings, gave up 4 hits and two runs.
15th June: Cubs loose a heartbreaker in the 12th inning. Hammel, the starting pitcher, was on target for seven innings and yielded one run. He left the game with the score tied at 1-1. The Cubs took a 3-2 lead in the 9th on Rizzo's two run HR. The Nationals tied it at the bottom of the 9th. The Cubs went ahead again in the 12th on Russell's one out RBI double. But the Nationals scored in the bottom of the inning.
17th June: Arrieta was back on the mound and in all his glory. He went six innnings, gave up two hits, no runs and SO 11. Maddon, the Cubs manager, said of his effort, "He's really good. His command still isn't what it can be. When it is, look out!." Jake is now 11-1. The recently called up rookie Almora went 3-for-4 and had 2 RBIs. Chicago starters, after 65 games "have had 31 outings of a least six innings while giving up zero or one earned run.
19th June: Kyle Hendricks strikes out 12 in six innings, gives up one run and no walks. Cubs get 10 runs on 14 hits. HRs by Rizzo (17), Bryant (17), and Contreras, a rookie. It was his first game in the Major League and he hits his first pitch for a HR. A PR release says that the young hitter told his minor league teammates, when he was called up, " I won't be back!" To the minors, that is. Also homering were Russell and Baez, the latter was 3-for-4; Heyward was 3-for-5. Cubs are 47-20, .701%
Oops...Btween 20th and the 23rd of June the Cubs lose four straight: 1-3, 3-4, 2-7 and 2-4. Arrieta gets second loss but lowers his ERA.
24th June: Weird game against the Marlins! Cubs give up four runs on two hits. All four runs come from a grandslam in the 1st inning; and all were unearned. But the Cubs had scored four, themselves, at the top of the inning and would score one more in the seventh to win 5-4. Contreras, the new boy wonder just called up, goes 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs. He has 17 at bats, 7 hits, 8 RBIs and is batting .412. He gets credit for breaking the four game losing streak.
On the 24th and 25th Cubs bow again to the Marlins. But on the 27th, playing the Reds, Bryant goes 5-for-5 with 3 HRs (21) and 2 two baggers."He became the first player in modern major league history, dating back to 1913, to hit 3 HRs and 2 doubles in one game. His average advances to .278. His RBI total is 57 with the 6 RBIs. Rizzo is close behind with 18 HRs and 55 RBIs. Cubs get 17 hits in 11-8 win. Contreras goes 2-for-4, .370% average. Arrieta gets the win, but the Miracle Man wasn't at his best. He went 5 innings (93 pitches), gave up four hits, but allowed five earned runs. He is 12-2. Oh yeah, he was 2-for3 at bat with a HR .His average is .294%. It was only the Cubbies second win in the last eight games. Their record now, 49-26 and still best in Major League play.
28th June: Lester pitched 7 2/3 innings of solid basball. He gave up 3 hits---one HR---and left with a score of 2-1. Reds tied the game in the 9th. The game would go 15 innings. Bryant broke the 2-2 tie with an RBI single and he was followed by Baez who hit a grandslam HR to straight-away center---400+ feet. The final score, 7-2.
29th June: Weekly USAToday MLB assessment: Team # 1, Cubs with 298/300 points. And they say about the six losses in eight games, "Just a speed bump. Nothing more."
29thJune: In the first inning against the Reds, Rizzo hit an inside the park HR batting in two. The new kid, Contreras, hit a two out double which was followed by my boy Russell's eightth HR. Almora Jr got his first HR in the majors. Hendricks went 6.2 innings, gave up two runs and is 6-6, with a 2.76 ERA.
The Cubs take on the Mets...And it is a repeat of the last year's playoffs: Cubbies lose four. Two are blowouts: 2-10 and 3-14. That last score was when Lester was on the mound. He had the worst start of his career pitching 1.1 innings, giving up 9 hits and 8 earned runs (9-4, on season). The Mets got a total of 22 hits. Wilmer Flores got 2 HRs and was 6-for-6. Damn! What's this all about? Not to worry....They next faced the Reds and win 10-4 on 12 hits. Contreras goes 2-for-4 with one RBI, Russell was 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Hendricks picks up his seventh win against six loses, goes 5.1 innings, gives up 4 hits and 1 unearned run.
But it was the start of a long, long week. The Cubbies would lose their next five games. On the 9th of July, Arrieta loses again---he's now 12-4---and it is the Cubs 14th loss in the last 19 games. It is worth noting that Dexter Fowler has been on the disabled list since 19th June. Since then the Cubs have batted only .190% with runners in scoring position.
9th July: Pirates beat the Cubs 12-6. Lester goes only three innings and gives up five runs. Warren comes in to pitch the 4th and 5th inning and gives up seven earned runs---he was the key player in the trade with the Yankees for Starlin Castro last winter. Castro is hitting .256 for the pinstippers.
10th July: In the last game before the All Star epic the Cubs snap a five game losing streak winning 6-5 against the Pirates. During the last of June and into July they have seen their division lead cut from 12 1/2 games to seven. In this vicotry Rizzo had his second consecutive 4 hit day (.299%).
Since Fowler has been on the disabled list, the Cubs have won seven games and lost 15. Says a lot about Fowler's value to the team. Remember, the Cubbies refused the amount he requested at the end of last season when he was a free agent and no other team made a good offer. He came back to the Cubs at the start of Spring Training. Fantastic for the Cubs....And wait until contract talks next year.
Worth noting: Contreras, on the 7th of July, went 3-for-5 with one triple. I watched the video of the latter hit and was thrilled to see his antics when he safely touched the third base. He raised both arms, with clenched fist, and did a hip-hop jig in celebration. Love it!
At the All Star break the Cubbies are 53-35, .602 ave. They stated the month at 35-15.
At the All Star game Both Rizzo and Bryant went 1-for-2; and Bryant's hit was a HR. Lester pitched .2 innings gave up no hits nor runs. Arrieta told the NL manager he preferred not to play. He said that considering his recent outings he felt he needed a rest.
So ends Act I of the 2016 baseball season. Two more acts to go. And to quote Alfred E Neuman: "What? Me worry?"