Chris Rusin, Two Clutch Hits and a Cubs Win – Cubs 3, Cardinals 0

Game One Hundred Fifteen – Cubs 3, Cardinals 0

WP – Chris Rusin (2-1) LP – Lance Lynn (13-6) Save – Kevin Gregg (24)

wflag-pubChris Rusin tossed six innings of scoreless ball, Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo drove in the runs and the Cubs shut out the Cardinals in St. Louis for the first time since 1997 on Friday night.

Chris Rusin made his first career start against the Cardinals and pitched an excellent game. Rusin made the pitches he needed to with runners on base and used the pitcher’s spot in the lineup to his advantage. Rusin intentionally walked Pete Kozma twice with runners in scoring position and retired Lance Lynn both times to end innings.

Chris Rusin did not nibble on Friday night which ended up being the difference in the game. Rusin pitched ahead in the count, for the most part, and did not walk a batter outside of the two intentional freebies to Kozma. Rusin gave up seven hits, two intentional walks and five strikeouts on 90 pitches, 56 for strikes, in six innings of work.

Chris Rusin turned the game over to the pen and only two runners reached base over the last three innings. James Russell and Blake Parker combined on a perfect seventh. Pedro Strop plunked Matt Holliday with one out in the eighth but did not allow a hit. Kevin Gregg issued a two-out walk to Carlos Beltran in the ninth before Matt Carpenter flied out to deep right to end the game.

With his six innings of shutout ball on Friday night, Chris Rusin became the first Cubs’ southpaw since Ken Holtzman on September 19, 1979 to toss at least six innings of scoreless ball in St. Louis.

The Cardinals outhit the Cubs 7-5 on Friday night but the Cubs used six walks and three hit batsman to their advantage. And two of the six walks scored in the seventh inning on a pair of two-out singles by Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo.

Junior Lake (1-for-4 with a RBI, a walk and a run scored) drove in Welington Castillo (1-for-2 with a walk, a HBP and a run scored) with a two-out single in the seventh for the first run of the game. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-5 with two RBI) delivered a two-run single off of lefty Randy Choate that gave the Cubs a 3-0 lead.

Starlin Castro (1-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt) had a good game at the plate and in the field. Darwin Barney (1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored) reached base three times and scored on Rizzo’s two-run single.

With Friday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 51-64 on the season.

The Cubs made Lance Lynn work in the first inning (17 pitches, nine for strikes) but did not manage a hit. Chris Rusin retired the Cardinals in order to start in his night on 13 pitches, nine for strikes. And Welington Castillo reached on a two-out single to left in the second inning, the Cubs first hit of the game. Castro grounded out to Kozma to end the inning. Lynn needed 33 pitches, 19 for strikes, to complete two frames on Friday night.

Chris Rusin gave up a single to Matt Holliday to start the second. Matt Adams smoked a 2-2 pitch up the middle and right to Starlin Castro. Castro was in the shift and did not have to move to catch the ball. Rusin retired Tony Cruz on a pop out to Rizzo. Jon Jay pulled a 1-2 pitch past a diving Rizzo and into right field. Holliday advanced to third on Jay’s double. Rusin intentionally walked Pete Kozma and loaded the bases for Lance Lynn. Rusin caught Lynn looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning. Rusin needed 37 pitches, 22 for strikes, to complete two innings.

The Cubs put two runners on in the third inning but could not push across a run. Darwin Barney led off with a single to center. Rusin bunted him to second. Lynn appeared to pitch around Lake and walked him on five pitches. Cole Gillespie tapped a 3-2 pitch back to Lynn … 1-6-3 inning ending double play.

Chris Rusin worked around a two-out bloop single by Allen Craig in the third without allowing the Cardinals to score. Rusin threw 52 pitches, 31 for strikes, in the first three innings.

After the Cubs could not capitalize on Lynn hitting DeJesus with one out in the fourth, Rusin struck out both Adams and Cruz swinging to start the Cardinals fourth inning. Jon Jay blooped a double down the left field line. Rusin intentionally walked Kozma for the second time. Lynn grounded out to third to end the inning. Rusin threw 68 pitches, 41 for strikes, over four innings.

The Cubs could not advance Barney off first after he worked a one out walk in the fifth.

Chris Rusin retired Matt Carpenter on a flyout to left for the first out in the fifth. David Freese singled to center. Allen Craig stepped in and appeared to hit a two-run homer … but the ball died near the wall and Junior Lake hauled it in for the second out. Matt Holliday singled to left center. Freese advanced to third with two down. Matt Adams hit a 1-1 pitch back up the middle that Rusin fielded and threw to first for the third out. Rusin threw 81 pitches, 50 for strikes, in five innings … and the Cardinals were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base in five at bats.

David DeJesus walked with two outs in the sixth, but Lynn struck out Donnie Murphy swinging to end the inning.

Chris Rusin ended up facing the minimum in the sixth. Jon Jay singled to right center with one out but Pete Kozma rapped into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.

Welington Castillo worked a walk to start the seventh inning. Starlin Castro squared to bunt and pushed the ball up the first baseline. Castro hustled out of the box. Lynn fielded the ball and Castro avoided the tag running up the line by diving into the bag. Castro was called safe and the Cubs had runners on first and second with no outs. But the umpires decided to discuss the call and it was decided that Castro was out of the baseline and he was called out … the umpires were wrong. Lynn then walked Darwin Barney on four pitches and the Cubs had two on with one out. Logan Watkins pinch hit for Chris Rusin and struck out swinging.

Junior Lake stepped in with runners on first and second with two outs. Lake worked a 3-1 count before ripping a single into center. Jon Jay made a strong throw to the plate as Castillo motored toward the plate. Jay’s throw was off line and up the third baseline. Castillo slid around Cruz and scored … 1-0 Cubs. Both runners advanced on the throw to the plate. Lynn hit Cole Gillespie to load the bases for Anthony Rizzo.

Mike Matheny decided that was enough for Lynn and went to his pen for lefty Randy Choate.

Anthony Rizzo drove a 2-2 pitch back up the middle and into center. Barney and Lake scored, 3-0 Cubs. With runners on the corners, DeJesus struck out swinging to end the inning.

James Russell and Blake Parker combined on a 1-2-3 seventh … and the game went to the eighth with the Cubs up 3-0.

The Cubs had a chance to blow the game open in the eighth against Trevor Rosenthal. After Murphy struck out swinging to start the inning, Rosenthal plunked Welington Castillo in the left shoulder … the third time on the night that a Cub was hit by a pitch. Starlin Castro ripped a single into left and went to second when Holliday threw toward third. With runners on second and third with one out, Matheny pulled his infield in. Darwin Barney grounded out to short for the second out. Cody Ransom hit for Parker and walked to load the bases. Matheny went back to his pen and brought in Seth Maness to face Junior Lake. Lake flied out to right for the third out.

Pedro Strop retired Craig on a grounder to Castro to start the eighth inning. Strop then hit Matt Holliday and fell behind Adams 3-1. Matt Adams cranked Strop’s next pitch to DeJesus in deep right center for the second out. Strop caught Cruz looking at a 2-2 pitch to end the inning … and the game went to the ninth with the Cubs up 3-0.

The Cubs did nothing against Edward Mujica. Kevin Gregg took the hill in the ninth with the Cubs up by three runs.

Jon Jay grounded out to Rizzo for the first out. Gregg then caught pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso looking at a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Descalso did not like the call and kept arguing with the umpire all the way into the dugout. David Rackley finally had enough and ejected him from the game. Mike Matheny came out to defend his play and was also ejected. When play resumed, Gregg walked pinch-hitter Carlos Beltran on four pitches. Matt Carpenter flied out to Gillespie in deep right (3-2 pitch) to end the game.

Carlos Villanueva faces Michael Wacha on Saturday night.

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  • Theboardrider

    I was thinking earlier and we all expected an implosion after the trade deadline. And while we still aren’t playing great and we have declined a little it’s not been dramatic as expected. We still can’t consistently score runs, but our pitching has been extremely solid. Rusin has been great and the rest have more often than not done enough to put the team in a position to win. The most erratic hurlers are EJax and Shark. With all of the young sluggers we have in the system, our pitching may be not as big of a worry based on the guys that are here now. We still don’t have an ace; but with Rusin, Hendricks and Wood we have a solid base. In another year or two Wood may be the number 5 with the others in front of him. If we can deal Shark for a couple young studs we could really be in a good position. Not to mention we have Edwards lurking down there, who is looking like he has “ace,” potential.

    Shoot, Hendricks looks like he has “ace,” potential. I don’t care that he doesn’t throw smoke. He keeps runners from crossing home plate as well as any young hurler in the minor leagues. Time to give the guy some credit and stop seeing him as a future #5 starter just because he doesn’t have overwhelming stuff. Neither did Maddux, and look where he ended up. Hendricks is looking like a future all-star if his production transfers to the big leagues. So far it has transferred at every other level.

    • daverj

      I see the Cubbie Kool-Aid is in full effect! :)

      I hope you are right, but I just don’t see it.

      In my opinion, if Rusin, Wood and Hendricks are all in the Cubs rotation, it means there will be no division titles and the Epstein regime was a failure.

      I still see Hendricks as a #4 at-best (most likely a #5), but he’s been great and maybe there’s a long shot chance at him being a solid #3 … but an ace? Maddux had a much higher pedigree … a top prospect and a second round draft pick that broke into the majors at age 20. Hendricks is considered a mid-level prospect and is an 8th rounder who is 23 and just starting AAA.

      I think the team will start winning in 2015 and the Epstein plan will be a success, but it won’t be because of guys like Rusin and Hendricks.

      • Theboardrider

        Maddux was different era, when guys would get drafted high that didn’t have the amazing “stuff,” now it is all about it. Back in the 80’s a guy like Hendricks would have been a top draft choice. I still say he could be a top of rotation guy.

        Rusin just shut out the Cardinals for 6 innings an has basically shut down everyone he’s faved in the bigs. Until he does otherwise he looks like a quality starter he should only get better. I look at ERA closer than MPH.

        • Theboardrider

          I forgot to mention Vizcaino. Another potential ace. I watches Beahy tonight for Atlanta and all Icould think of was Vizcaino is a better prospect than this guy was withthe sene injury history. Absolutely no reason why not…

          • Suzy S

            The key word you used with Vizcaino is POTENTIAL Ace.
            A few years back, there was another prospect that everyone raved about…and felt he would be better than KWood/Prior/Zambrano/Clement…and most pitchers in baseball.
            I asked Stony about him once…and Stony said he was going to be an Ace….if he could remain healthy…
            IF he could remain healthy…..he couldn’t…and we all know the story of Angel Guzman.
            So let’s see.

          • daverj

            I agree with you that Vizcaino does have the potential to be an ace. Health is the big risk with him that could hold him back. He has had more injuries the past few years than beachy.

        • daverj

          If you are going to look at stats over mph, check out FIP, strand rates, K per 9, BB per 9, and BABIP Against. ERA doesn’t give much info about a pitcher.

      • Suzy S

        daverj, I agree with you…I think the Cubs will “start” winning in 2015. But I couldn’t even speculate on the rotation in 2 years…and that’s bothersome.

        • paulcatanese

          Agree Suzy, and as you say, will
          “start” winning in 2015. But even then, I believe that’s a stretch, too many players to develop at the same time at the top level.