The Cubs entered the final game of their series against the Giants with a chance for a very good homestand. With some timely offense and a bullpen strategy out of 1977, they did just that.
Eddie Butler struggled again out of the gate in the 1st inning, when doubles to Denard Span and Brandon Belt put San Francisco up 1-0. The Cubs answered back quickly against former teammate Jeff Samardzija (if you are wondering, I did look up the spelling). Kris Bryant just barely got a fly ball (maybe with a fan’s help) into the basket in left to tie the game in the 1st.
Butler displayed better control on Thursday, but he did give up a lot of hard contact. Luckily for Chicago most of it was right at defenders. The former Rockies prospect also used a pickoff of Span to escape a jam in the 5th. Shark had a pretty good outing against his former team, but the Cubs made him pay for his mistakes. Jason Heyward hit a laser home run into the rightfield basket in the 5th to put his team up 2-1.
Mike Montgomery came on in relief of Butler in the 6th and pitched three scoreless innings. Ben Zobrist, who appears to enjoy hitting leadoff, doubled the Chicago lead with a solo shot in the 6th to provide a little insurance.
The Cubs loaded the bases with 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th inning. Reliever Josh Osich threw a wild pitch and Kris Bryant broke for home. Buster Posey’s throw to the plate then went wide, allowing Anthony Rizzo to score.
With a 5-1 lead, Joe Maddon decided to let Montgomery stay in to go for the four-inning save. Since they are about to go on an Anchorman-themed road trip, a throwback to the 70’s feels right. Monty picked up his first career regular-season save — anyone want to remind me of his first postseason save? — in the 5-1 victory.
Stats That Matter
- Eddie Butler showed some improvement from his bad start against Milwaukee: 5 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 1 K, 2 BB. It seems clear Maddon will have a quick hook on Butler, but 5 or 6 innings of one-run ball should work if the Cubs hit.
- Ben Zobrist went 3-for-4 with a homer from the leadoff spot. The Chicago order seems to flow better with him hitting first moving everyone else down a spot.
- Mike Montgomery gave a huge boost out of the pen after Butler left: 4 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 K, 0 BB. It felt like a piggyback start you would see in A-ball.
Coming into this homestand, the hope was the Cubs would find their footing and gain control of the division. Well, they went 7-2 and moved into a virtual tie for first, so I think that will work.
The Cubs head west to Los Angeles to open a three-game series with the Dodgers on Friday. Jake Arrieta matches up against lefty Alex Wood at 9:10 CT. The game airs on ABC-7 locally and MLB-Network nationally.