Hanging Tough

There’s a New Kids on the Block song that’s entitled hanging tough and this years Cubs are exactly that in the rough and rugged NL Central/Wild Card Race. The NL Central is by far and away the strongest in baseball and that should come as no surprise because it’s been that way for the past several seasons. The best record in baseball belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals at 46-24. The next two best records in the National League are the Pirates and Cubs at 40 and 39 – 30 respectively. Last night the Cubs truly hung tough as they got NL ERA leader Zack Greinke out of the game after six innings and well over 100 pitches. Jason Hammel was up for the challenge as he went 7 2/3 innings allowing two hits and two walks.

The Cubs got the game into extras where they loaded the bases with no out before Chris Denorfia hit a solid line drive to left center that was tracked down by Joc Pederson only to see Matt Szczur gallop home on the sacrifice for the 1-0 win. What makes this win more encouraging was that not only was it against one of the best pitchers in baseball, but it was after a night where they scored four runs on three home runs against arguably the best and certainly the highest paid pitcher in baseball.

Now the Cubs have had some bad games and have seen Hector Rondon blow some saves (3), and they’ve had good starts by Lester go for naught as they haven’t given him any run support, but as of right now the Cubs are trending in the right direction during an extremely challenging part of their schedule. The Cubs took three of four from the Nationals a couple weeks ago then won a weekend series in Minnesota where the Twins have played very good in their home ballpark this season. This weekend the Cubs travel to St. Louis after tomorrow’s afternoon affair. If the Cubs lose tonight and tomorrow the wind could be taken out of their sails before they get to St. Louis, but after beating Kershaw and Greinke on back to back nights the Cubs now have the pitching matchup in their favor for the rest of the series.

This weekend won’t get the Cubs back into the NL Central lead, but it could put them back in a race for it depending how the rest of this week goes. The Cubs are currently on a four game winning streak and have won seven of ten. After the series in St. Louis the Cubs head to Queens for three against the Mets before coming back home at the endĀ of next week for a long 10 day home-stand. The Cubs lead the majors with nine walk-off wins this year and improved to 8-3 in extra innings after last night.

 

Tonight’s Pitching Matchup is Kyle Hendricks (2-3 4.28 ERA) vs Mike Bolsinger (4-2 2.87 ERA)