When I last left our north side heroes, they were coming off a disastrous Anchorman themed road trip that had seen them lose all 6 games. The Cubs came home Friday in desperate need off a pick me up. Thankfully they got it.
The Cubs won Friday's game on the strength of what won so many games for them in 2016, strong starting pitching, great base running by Anthony Rizzo and clutch hitting by Jason Heyward. Okay, I threw those last two in there to see if you were paying attention.
John Lackey did indeed pitch an excellent game Friday. Lackey went 7 innings and gave up only 2 runs. Despite that, the win went to Pedro Strop who, in a matchup that scared me, struck out Cubs killer, Yadier Molina in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and 2 outs. The Cubs scored the winning run run in the bottom of the 8th when Cardinals left fielder, Magnerius Sierra, played Rizzo's line drive into a double. Ben Zobrist followed with a groundout to third, but with a heads up bit of base running, Rizzo advanced to third. Jason Heyward followed with a sacrifice fly to center.
Wade Davis came on in the 9th to record his 11th save.
Earlier Kris Bryant had got the Cubs on the board with a solo homer. The Cubs second run scored when Cardinals right fielder, Stephen Piscotty, played Jason Heyward's long fly ball into a double that allowed Anthony Rizzo to score to tie the game.
The Cubs losing streak was over with the help of strong pitching from Lackey and the pen and poor outfield play by the Cardinals.
Despite Friday's win, the Cubs still haven't been hitting on all cylinders. Saturday's 5-3 win over the Cardinals provided a refreshing new element, Kyle Scwarber delivering the big blow. Schwarber's grand slam in the 7th inning turned a 3-1 deficit into a 5-3 lead.
Schwarber was batting in the 9th slot, and I'd like to see him stay there for a little while. Javy Baez started at short and got the Cubs rolling with a solo homer in the third. While Baez still shows a lack of plate disciple at times, he's hitting .270 with an OPS of .806. He's got to be in the lineup somewhere.
Jon Lester went 6 innings, giving up 3 runs, but something else important happened. Lester picked off a base runner with a throw to first. Lester left the game trailing 3-1. After Lester's departure, Hector Rondon, Koji Uehara and Wade Davis all pitched a scoreless inning. Schwarber's slam made a winner out of Rondon and Davis got his second save in two days. A win Sunday night would seem to put the Cubs back on track.
On to the White Sox. The Sox lost to games in Detroit by a combined score of 25-6. Derek Holland and Miguel Gonzalez were the Sox starters who got beat up. Finding bright spots in the two losses is a tough job. What I came up with was Leury Garcia drove in 4 of the Sox 6 runs. He continues to surprise me. That's enough about them for now.
More next time.