After two consecutive blowout losses, the Cubs looked to get back on track against the White Sox on Saturday. The Northsiders took an early lead before the home team rallied back to tie it. The Sox finally started to resemble the 90-loss team they are and the Cubs got a big win.
MVP candidate Javy Baez put his team ahead in the 1st inning with a line-drive homer to left, his 34th, to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead. Jon Lester allowed an unearned run to score in the bottom of the inning on a Avisail Garcia single. Tim Anderson cranked a solo shot to left to tie the game at 2-2 in the 3rd inning.
A crucial mistake sank the Sox in the top of the 5th inning. Kyle Schwarber and David Bote each singled to put two on with one out. Daniel Murphy hit a liner that looked to be right at left fielder Ryan LaMarre, who for some reason broke in on the ball only to see it fly over his head. Schwarber scored the go-ahead run on the misplayed double.
Ben Zobrist followed with a two-run single to make it 5-2 Cubs. Lester allowed a run on a Matt Davidson single before leaving after five innings. The Cubs’ bullpen was very good, going four shutout innings. Terrance Gore displayed his speed, scoring on a fielder’s choice in the 9th after entering as a pinch runner. Baez also singled in a three-run inning that made it an easy victory. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
The recently struggling ‘pen was much better on Saturday. With Lester leaving early, the relief corps needed to step up and they did. The Cubs offense also took advantage of Sox mistakes.
The LaMarre misplay really was the swing moment of the game. Lucas Giolito was pitching well and it’s unclear if the inning goes anywhere if that out is recorded. Zobrist’s hit was also big because it really made the miscue hurt.
Stats That Matter
- The Sox drove up Lester’s pitch count, making it a short night: 5 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 8 H, 4 K, and 0 BB. It wasn’t his best effort but it kept the Cubs in the game long enough to win.
- Baez just keeps being a very valuable part of the team. His three RBI Saturday give him 110 for the season and he made several great defensive plays despite an early throwing error.
- Zobrist continues to be a key cog in the offense with two runs scored and two runs knocked in.
- Schwarber had two well-struck balls, a single and a double, and it would be a great help if he got going.
With Milwaukee losing in Pittsburgh, the Cubs’ magic number is down to six. This is also their fourth consecutive 90-win season, a feat not seen for either Chicago baseball team in a long time.
The Cubs look to inch closer to a division title Sunday in the rubber match of the series. Carlos Rodon faces Kyle Hendricks at 1:10pm CT in a game available on MLB Network (out of market) and ABC-7.