Game Twenty-Four: Cubs 4, Brewers 0
WP – Jason Hammel (4-1) LP – Wily Peralta (3-1) Save – None
Jason Hammel put together the best outing by a Cubs’ pitcher so far this season. Hammel took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and limited a very good Brewers’ lineup, even without Ryan Braun, to three hits over seven-plus innings. Hammel had very good command and was able to pitch his way out of his only jam in the sixth inning. The Brewers made very little solid contact against Hammel as he appeared to keep the Brewers’ offense guessing all afternoon.
Jason Hammel picked up his fifth quality start in five tries after shutting out the Brewers on Sunday. Hammel surrendered three hits, one double, with two walks and seven strikeouts. Hammel threw 98 pitches, 67 for strikes, in seven-plus innings.
Pedro Strop recorded three outs on four pitches in the eighth inning. And Hector Rondon was very good in technically a non-save situation. But when the team you pitch four has lost four games in a row, was it really a non-save situation for Rondon on Sunday afternoon? Hector Rondon struck out the side in order in the ninth to close out Hammel’s gem.
Starlin Castro (3-for-4 with two home runs) had a very good weekend at the plate. Castro just missed a couple of home runs on Saturday night, but he did not miss anything on Sunday. Even the out he made was a liner to third base right to Aramis Ramirez.
For the second time in his career and the second time this season, Starlin Castro hit two home runs in a single game. Castro gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the second inning with his first longball of the day. Castro hit a monster shot over the wall in centerfield off of Wily Peralta that appeared to relax his teammates. Castro lined a solo shot over the wall in left in the eighth inning off of reliever Brandon Kintzler that capped his day. Castro’s fourth homer of the season got out of Miller Park in a hurry … and tied him with Mike Olt and Welington Castillo for the team lead in home runs.
Darwin Barney (0-for-4 with a RBI) grounded out to third in the second inning with the bases loaded and plated Nate Schierholtz (1-for-4 with a run scored) with the Cubs’ second run. Mike Olt (0-for-2 with a SF RBI and a walk) drove in Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a run scored) with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning. Ryan Kalish (2-for-4 with a stolen base) hit leadoff for the Cubs on Sunday. Kalish collected two hits and stole a base. John Baker (2-for-4) snapped an 0-for-18 skid with two hits on Sunday, his first two hits in a Cubs’ uniform.
After striking out 12 times with one walk on Friday and 11 times without a walk on Saturday, the Cubs struck out eight times on Sunday with one walk. 31 strikeouts in three games with two walks is not good, but to the Cubs credit, two of the eight strikeouts on Sunday came in the first inning. The entire team seemed to change their approach at the plate after Castro’s first home run.
The Cubs scored four runs on nine hits (1-for-8 with RISP, five left on base) and won for the seventh time at Miller Park since the start of the 2011 season (7-24).
The Cubs picked up their first victory since last Tuesday and the pitching staff recorded its first shutout of the season. With Sunday’s win (2-2 on Sundays in 2014), the Cubs improved to 8-16 on the season.
Starlin Castro led off the second inning of a scoreless, hitless game with a big fly to center. Castro got all of Wily Peralta’s 2-0 pitch and hit a long, homer over the wall in center. Castro’s third homer of the season gave the Cubs their first lead in the series. Nate Schierholtz worked a full count before recording his first hit off of Peralta, a soft liner into left center. Schierholtz swiped second on a 1-0 pitch to Olt. Mike Olt worked a walk. John Baker collected his first hit in a Cubs’ uniform. Baker dribbled a 3-2 pitch past a diving Aramis Ramirez. The ball appeared to hit Ramirez’s glove and Bianchi was able to get to the ball before it rolled into left field. With the bases loaded and no outs, Darwin Barney pulled a 1-1 pitch toward third. Ramirez fielded the ball, stepped on third and threw toward the plate. Ramirez’s throw was offline and toward the first base side of the base. Schierholtz slid in safe, 2-0 Cubs. Jason Hammel stepped in with runners on first and second with one down. Hammel squared with Ramirez and Overbay crashing down on him. Hammel bunted the ball right to Ramirez … 5-6-4 double play, inning over.
Jason Hammel retired the side in order in the second, 25 pitches for Hammel after two innings, 18 for strikes, and the game went to the third with the Cubs up 2-0.
Jason Hammel continued throwing strikes in the third and fourth innings. Hammel allowed two baserunners, a walk and an error, on 57 pitches, 38 for strikes, over the first four innings.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning.
Anthony Rizzo led off the sixth with a hump-back liner to center (1-1 pitch). Starlin Castro followed and ripped a single into left. With runners on first and second with no outs, Schierholtz pulled a 0-1 pitch up the first baseline. Overbay fielded the ball and beat Schierholtz to the bag as Rizzo and Castro moved up ninety feet. Mike Olt lifted Peralta’s first pitch to center. Rizzo tagged and scored, 3-0 Cubs. Castro could not move up when Gomez airmailed his throw to third. John Baker worked a full count before hitting a liner down the third baseline that Ramirez made a nice backhand catch on to end the inning.
Jason Hammel took a 3-0 lead and a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth. Hammel retired Peralta on a pop out to Barney in shallow right center for the first out. Carlos Gomez followed and ripped a 1-2 pitch past Mike Olt and into the left field corner. Gomez settled for a double, the first hit off Hammel. Scooter Gennett was walked on four pitches and Jonathan Lucroy stepped in representing the tying run. Hammel gave the Brewers two bases when he tried to pickoff Gomez from second base. Hammel’s throw ended up in center and both Gomez and Gennett moved up ninety feet. With runners on second and third, Lucroy struck out swinging (1-2 pitch) for the second out. Aramis Ramirez bounced out to Olt to end the inning.
The Cubs went down in order in the seventh and Hammel surrendered his second hit of the day in the home half. Lyle Overbay reached on a one-out single to left center. But that was all against Hammel in the seventh and the Cubs went to the eighth up by a 3-0.
Brandon Kintzler replaced Peralta for the eighth and retired Anthony Rizzo on a flyout to center (3-1 pitch). Starlin Castro followed and lined Kintzler’s first pitch over the wall in left. Castro’s fourth longball of the season gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead. Kintzler retired Schierholtz (grounder to first) and Olt (swinging strikeout) to end the inning.
Jason Hammel took the hill for the start of the eighth inning. Rickie Weeks hit for Kintzler and lined a single into left center. Rick Renteria decided that was enough for Hammel and went to his pen for Pedro Strop. Carlos Gomez flied out to left on Strop’s first pitch and Scooter Gennett grounded into a 3-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Cubs did nothing against lefty Wei-Chung Wang in the ninth and Hector Rondon was given the task to close out the game in the bottom of the ninth. Rondon struck out the side in order (Lucroy looking, Ramirez swinging, Davis swinging) to end the game.
Weather permitting, the Cubs open a three-game series on Monday night (6:05pm CDT) in Cincinnati. Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to take on Alfredo Simon in the opener.