The Chicago Cubs took on the Philadelphia Phillies in a three game series during the week. The Cubs took two of the three, losing the middle game. This was a pretty hard fought series, as the Cubs only outscored the Phillies by one run in games one and two. The first two games were decided by two runs or less, while the third game was a seven run victory. The Phillies, who have been exceeding expectations with a winning percentage just below .500 (.483), weren’t able to slow down the Cubs, who won their fifth straight series. The Cubs pitching and long ball beat the Phillies, as Chicago moved to twenty-four games over .500.
Cubs Pitching, Long Ball Beat Phillies
Jon Lester Great Again
Jon Lester was the starting pitcher in game one, and he put on another brilliant performance. He went eight innings, allowing just four hits and no runs. Lester didn’t surrender a walk and struck out nine batters. Lester has shown All-Star caliber stuff lately, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Last year during the playoffs, Chicago faced the enviable predicament of deciding between Lester and Jake Arrieta to start in the Wild Card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. If these two can pitch at this level all season, that same question might get raised again, as Lester is currently out-pitching the reigning Cy Young winner.
Jerad Eickhoff Shuts Down Cubs
In game two of the series, Phillies pitcher Jerad Eickhoff was a dominating force on the mound. He went seven innings and gave up two hits and just a single earned run. He walked only a pair while striking out eight. The 25-year old right-hander has pitched in just over 120 innings in his career. His ERA is 3.26, but his WHIP is much better at 1.12. It seems that Eickhoff’s stuff is much better than his numbers show. This could be due to the lack of support from his surrounding players. Brett Taylor, the lead reporter for Bleacher Nation tweeted this about Eckhoff’s curveball:
Before you go ripping on the Cubs, keep in mind: coming *into* tonight, Eickhoff’s curveball was 3rd most valuable curve in all of baseball.
— Brett Taylor (@BleacherNation) June 8, 2016
Eickhoff definitely had that curveball going again last night, and it had the Cubs hitters on their heels.
John Lackey Cuts Down Phillies
In the rubber match of the series, John Lackey made his 12th appearance. He was lights out on the mound, giving the Cubs the series win. Lackey pitched seven strong innings, allowing just three hits. He surrendered no runs and no walks. Lackey also struck out eight batters, seven of which came from the top five hitters in the Phillies lineup. When a pitcher can shut down the top of the order like he did today, it is hard for any team to put up runs. Lackey had a rocky first inning, giving up two consecutive hits to start the game, but would get out of the jam unscathed with the help of a great defensive assist by Albert Almora. He gave up another hit in the second, but that would be the last batter to reach. Lackey retired sixteen consecutive hitters at one point, and threw fifteen out of twenty-three first-pitch strikes throughout the game.
Cubs Use Long Ball
The Cubs went back to their hammering ways, scoring eight runs in game three of the series. Three of those runs came in the sixth inning. The ball jumped off the bats of Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist as they hit two bombs in the same inning. Bryant’s was a two-run shot, as Jason Heyward was on base. Zobrist’s came as a solo shot. Javier Baez also performed well in the game, as he went 4-4 with three runs driven in.
The Chicago Cubs have continued to roll on, winning seven of their last ten games while showing no signs of slowing down. It seems like they are going to continue on this great season, and continue to win ball games. The Cubs take on the Atlanta Braves in a three game series over the weekend in Atlanta.
Pitcher of the Series:
Jon Lester (7-3)
8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K
Hitter of the Series:
6-14, 4 R, 3 RBI, 3 1B, 2 2B, 1 HR
Follow the Last Word On Sports Chicago Cubs Twitter page here.