The Cubs looked to make it two in a row as Cole Hamels took on his former club on Wednesday evening. Hamels was not as crisp as Cub fans have become accustomed to since he was acquired from the Rangers last July. The Phillies got to him early in the first inning. Long time Cubs tormentor Andrew McCutchen tagged Hamels for a lead off double and Cutch would later come around to score on a J.T. Realmuto ground-rule double.
The Philly offense would begin going to work on Cole again in the third. Jean Segura doubled and was driven in by Rhys Hoskins two batters later, giving the Phils a 2-0 advantage. They would add one more on a Cesar Hernandez RBI single. Hamels would gut his way through four innings, surrendering nine hits, while striking out six and giving up three earned runs. A lot of hard contact against him tonight, which was very un-Hamels like.
The Cubs offense would answer right back in the bottom of the third as Kyle Schwarber led off with his second double of the evening. Kris Bryant singled and that set the stage for Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo would launch a monster home run to right field off Phillies starter Cole Irvin, which ended up breaking the D in the Budweiser sign on the right field video board. Rizzo’s home run was reminiscent of Schwarbers’ moon-shot against the Cardinals in the 2015 NLDS.
The Cubs would take the lead for good in the fifth inning as Albert Almora Jr. launched a grand slam to center field which gave them a 7-3 lead. Javy Báez would add on to the lead in the seventh inning with a solo homer of his own to make it 8-4 Cubs.
Huge credit to Tyler Chatwood who was called upon to eat up some innings after the early departure of Hamels. Chatwood continued to shine in his role out of the bullpen. He went four solid innings and only gave up three hits and a run. Chatwood may have been allowed to finish it out had he not allowed a single to Bryce Harper to start the ninth, but all’s well that ends well in an 8-4 Cubs victory.
Why the Cubs Won
The long ball was the Cubs best friend on Wednesday night. A three-run homer off the bat of Anthony Rizzo helped tie the game in the third inning. Almora would launch his first career grand slam to center field giving the Cubs a lead they would not relinquish, and Báez, returning to the lineup after a heel injury, added a solo homer for good measure.
A fifth inning two-out grand slam from Almora broke the three all tie. It was Almora’s first career grand slam and couldn’t have come at a better time.
Stats That Matter
- Almora: 1-for-4, grand slam, 4 RBI
- Rizzo: 1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI
- Bryant: 2-for-4, 2 runs scored
- Chatwood: 4.0+ innings, 3 hits and 1 run allowed.
- Schwarber: 2-for-4, 2 doubles and a run scored.
The Cubs were finally able to hit with runners in scoring position after two tight and close games to begin this series. While 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position isn’t exactly eye popping, the Cubs offense made the most of those two opportunities, with the three-run homer and the grand slam.
Their continued strong play has kept the Brewers at arm’s length and has increased their odds in both computer models and sports books. If you’re new to the latter, it’s not a bad idea to get a little extra advice prior to placing any bets.
The Cubs will look to win the series against the Phillies Thursday afternoon with a pair of aces toeing the rubber as the Cubs’ Jon Lester will oppose the Phillies’ Aaron Nola. Game time is at 1:20 pm CT and can be viewed on ABC 7 and heard on 670 The Score.