As if there was ever a doubt. It’s fun knowing that Aroldis Chapman is lurking, waiting in the wings to come in the game, should the need arise. It’s so fun, in fact, that it almost takes all the fun out of the blowout wins….almost.
Dexter Fowler was a man possessed tonight for the Cubs. He led off the first inning with a triple and then scored when Willson Contreras – batting second in the order for the first time all year – singled to drive him in.
He singled again in the third inning and scored the Cubs’ second run on a strange, delayed double play.
It started with an Anthony Rizzo pop out, followed by a high throw to first in an attempt to get Contreras as he floated off the bag. He was safe. Marlins’ first baseman, Chris Johnson, quickly relayed the ball home, too late to get a sliding Fowler. Contreras then tried to take second base when the throw home momentarily got away from catcher J.T. Realmuto. He was called out when the pitcher, Jose Fernandez retrieved the ball and threw it to the second baseman, just in time.
As if that wasn’t enough, in the bottom of the fifth inning Fowler singled in Chris Coghlan, who advanced to second base on a balk by Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez.
Jason Hammel was stout all night, holding the Marlins to four hits but he left the game after only 80 pitches when Joe Maddon decided to pinch-hit Miguel Montero for him with runners on first and second. The Cubs wouldn’t score.
The Marlins would come back to score two runs in the seventh inning against Cubs’ pitcher Pedro Strop, who would be replaced by the prodigal Travis Wood. I jest, but Wood did get the only batter he faced out.
And just like Joe Maddon had written it up, and as a Cubs fan you really can’t wait to see, it was Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman time. Rondon kept his end of the bargain, giving up two singles but picking the lead runner off at first base before the second hit.
Aroldis Chapman came on in the ninth inning and boy-oh-boy, the ninth inning in a tight game sure is a lot of fun. The three Marlins batters didn’t have a chance. The Cubs get the win 3-2 (Box Score).
Stats that mattered
- Jason Hammel was excellent – 0R, 4H, 3BB, 2Ks
- Pedro Strop almost lost it for the Cubs – 0.2IP, 2R, 3H, 2Ks
- The Chapman and Rondon combo is wicked – 2.0IP, 0R, 2H, 2Ks
- Fowler was in the zone all night – 3-for-4, 2R, 1RBI, 3B (the Cubs only extra base hit)
I really like what I’m seeing from this Cubs team. They started the season out so hot that it was almost surreal. Then, like a somber reminder that baseball isn’t quite so easy, they slowed down in June going 16-12 and really hit a bump in July as they went 12-14.
Since the All-Star game they’re 12-6 and playing with a different look to them. It feels like they could be getting ready to pull away from the Cardinals, once and for all. Convenient that the Cardinals will be in town next week for a four-game set. Who wants to meet next weekend at Wrigley?
The Cubs will close out the home stand, and the three-game series, against the Marlins on Wednesday at 1:20 PM CDT. It’ll be John Lackey (8-7, 3.69 ERA) taking the hill for the Cubs.