The Rundown: Cubs Pull Within 1 Game of First Place, Junior Lake Called Up, Brian Schlitter Sent Down

With a 4-0 win last night against the Pirates and the Cardinals dropping one to the Phillies, the Cubs are only a game out of first place in the National League Central.

I know it’s only April, but I’m going to feel good about it and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.

Last night was my fourth game of the year, evening up my record to 2-2. Most importantly, however, the Cubs have been very much alive in all four games.

I don’t think Miguel Montero’s Twitter sensation/rally call — #wearegood — is going anywhere for the time being. These wins are not a fluke.

And let’s just remember, the Cubs have been playing this well without their big boppers hitting the ball out of the ballpark much. Kris Bryant has yet to homer. Jorge Soler hasn’t hit one out since April 13. Anthony Rizzo has only two home runs.

When the weather starts heating up and the wind blows out, we are likely to see some very crooked scores this summer. Jim Deshaies predicted the other day that the Cubs would put up 20 runs in a game this year. I don’t think that’s unreasonable at all.

Even without the benefit of a longball, the Cubs’ offense was very efficient on Monday night. The top four hitters went 8-for-14 with two walks, three runs scored and four RBIs.

But the real story of the game was starter Jason Hammel, who was in command from the get-go. Eight scoreless innings with seven punch-outs and zero walks: I will take that all day.

Can the next game start already?

Roster moves

Before yesterday’s game, the Cubs called up OF Junior Lake and sent RHP Brian Schlitter to Triple-A Iowa. I’m sure Evan is sad to see Schlitter go, but the reality is that he has struggled mightily: 9.53 ERA in seven relief appearances.

Lake is not my favorite outfield option, but he can show flashes of greatness every once in a while. Hopefully Joe Maddon will be able to get the best out of him. Maddon said before yesterday’s game that Lake could be used on the infield as well.

Other notes

* Javier Baez is in Arizona at extended Spring Training and should be reporting to Triple-A Iowa soon, writes Jesse Rogers. I look forward to having Javy back in the fold.

* Rehabbing LHP Tsuyoshi Wada gave up seven runs (six earned) and 12 hits last night for Triple-A Iowa. Not exactly what you’d like to see, but he has been pretty good in his other rehab starts. Maybe he still needs a little more time.

* Kyle Schwarber hit his third home run of the year for Double-A Tennessee yesterday, finishing the game 2-for-3 with a walk.


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