June has not always been a kind month to the Chicago Cubs. However, the 2019 vintage has enjoyed flipping the calendar over to June with a sweep of the Cardinals. The Cubs appear to be escaping the May doldrums they suffered through with a 6-3 start to the month and 6-1 in their last seven games. The season series trend of the home team dominating continued as the Cubs were able to pull away in the middle frames. Shaky defense and decision making kept the Cardinals in the game, but at the end of the night the Cubs maintained their percentage points lead in the Central for another day.
Kyle Hendricks set the Cardinals down in order to start the game. Adam Wainwright did not retire the side in order and lost Kyle Schwarber on balls to start the game. Kris Bryant singled on a line into left to move Schwarber to third. Schwarber scored on Anthony Rizzo's grounder to Paul Goldschmidt. That was the first of three straight groundballs to end what was a very promising inning with just one run lead.
Then Kris Bryant had an inning he would like to forget. Marcell Ozuna hit a smash grounder that Bryant made a nice diving snag to the right side but he then airmailed the throw into the stands to turn an out into a runner on second. Dexter Fowler hit a terrible sacrifice bunt right back to Kyle Hendricks but Bryant didn't run to cover third for some reason. The Professor was forced to settle for the out at first base. Kolten Wong then hit a dipping liner right at Schwarber. The ball bounced over the sliding, slugging left fielder allowing Ozuna to tie the game and Wong to reach second. Hendricks retired the next two batters to keep the game level at one.
The Cubs singled in the next three innings against Adam Wainwright, but each time were unable to break the deadlock. In the second, Waino was able to pitch around the one out single to Jason Heyward after Hendricks sacrifice and Bote's fly out. In the third, Rizzo grounded into an inning ending double play and Carlos González was caught stealing to end the fourth inning.
Hendricks was able to match Wainwright zero for zero while also pitching around trouble. Hendricks gave up singles and in the third and fourth inning. A beautiful throw and tag play erased the fourth inning single by Ozuna. The Cardinals best chance to take the lead occurred in the fifth inning. Hendricks retired the first two hitters, but Adam Wainwright pounced on a hanger for a two out double. Waino moved to third on Matt Carpenter's single, but Paul DeJong grounded out to Bryant who remembered how to throw after that brief lapse which ended the frame.
The Cubs also threatened in the fifth inning. Jason Heyward hit his second single of the night to start the inning, and he was moved into scoring position by Hendricks. David Bote hit another very hard single that resulted in Heyward scoring the winning run. Kyle Schwarber hit a double to score Bote. Wainwright had to leave the game with hamstring tightness. Giovanny Gallegos entered the game and retired all five Cubs he faced.
Paul Goldschmidt finally remembered that he is Paul Goldschmidt facing the Cubs by doubling to start the sixth inning. Ozuna flipped a single into left to advance Goldschmidt to third. Dexter Fowler hit a groundball right to Rizzo who was amused by Goldschmidt attempting to score on the play. Rizzo fired a strike to nab the Cub killer at the plate for the first out of the inning. Hendricks would retire the next five Cardinals he faced to leave the game pitching seven innings without allowing an earned run.
Carlos Martinez used to be a very intimidating foe, but the Cubs managed to extend their lead in the two innings of work from the former Cardinal ace. Tyler Webb started the seventh by retiring Jason Heyward, but was pulled for the young, hard throwing righty once Maddon opted for Albert Almora Jr. as a pinch hitter. Almora hit a groundball that clanked off of Matt Carpenter's glove allowing him to reach on an error. Carlos Martinez's error moved Almora into scoring position and he advanced to third on Bote's ground out. Kyle Schwarber hit a ringing single back up the middle to score Almora making it a 4-1 score. CarGo hit a two out home run into the basket in the eighth inning.
Steve Cishek worked around Paul Goldschmidt's one out single in the eighth inning. Carl Edwards Jr. was given the ninth inning once CarGo played *screw* the closer. Kolten Wong drew a base on balls to start the inning and the collective rising of Chicago's blood pressure. Edwards recovered to get a fly out from Harrison Bader before punching out rookie catcher Adam Knizner. However, Edwards walked José Martínez and that would be it for Edwards. Pedro Strop faced Matt Carpenter who hit the first pitch right into the teeth of the shift. The ball got past a diving Anthony Rizzo, but Javy was right there to throw to Pedro for the final out of the game. The Cubs sweep the Cardinals, but can't extend their division lead since the Pirates were useless this weekend.
It is June 9. The Cubs now have a 5.5 game lead over the Cardinals who are below .500 again thanks to the Cubs. It feels a bit like this to gloat at this juncture of the season, but it doesn't make it any less fun.