Beating Tanaka in the Rain – Cubs 6, Yankees 1

Game Forty-Three: Cubs 6, Yankees 1

WP – Jason Hammel (5-2) LP – Masahiro Tanaka (6-1) Save – None

wflag-pub2014The Cubs played one of their best games of the season on Tuesday night in the rain at the old ballyard. Jason Hammel outpitched Masahiro Tanaka as the Cubs beat the Yankees and handed Tanaka his first loss in his last 43 professional starts (August 19, 2012). The Cubs won their third game in a row and will post a winning homestand.

Jason Hammel was hit on his pitching hand on a comebacker of the bat of Brett Gardner after throwing his second pitch of the game. Hammel did an excellent job of just staying in the game after his first practice throw sailed to the backstop. WGN provided a close up of his hand that not only showed swelling but the imprint the stitches of the baseball left behind. Not only did ‘Plan B‘ stay in the game but he limited the Yankees to one run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Hammel threw 92 pitches, 59 for strikes, in 5 2/3 innings.

Justin Grimm threw one pitch to Alfonso Soriano with two on and the Cubs leading 2-1 to close out the sixth inning. Brian Schlitter tossed a perfect seventh and James Russell pitched a scoreless eighth.

Rick Renteria used Neil Ramirez and Hector Rondon in the ninth to close out the game. Ramirez ran into a little trouble as the rain started again. Ramirez gave up an infield single and walked Ichiro with two outs. Rondon was summoned from the pen and issued ball four to Brett Gardner to load the bases. Derek Jeter bounced out to Starlin Castro to end the game.

The Cubs offense did an excellent job of situational hitting and manufacturing runs on Tuesday night. The Cubs scored six runs on 11 hits without a ball leaving the yard. Two of the Cubs runs scored on back-to-back sacrifice flies in the sixth inning. Mike Olt worked a bases loaded walk that forced in the Cubs’ sixth run in the seventh inning.

Mike Olt drove in three of the Cubs six runs with a single, a sacrifice fly and a walk. Luis Valbuena collected three more hits and John Baker had his best game of the season. Olt and Baker were a combined 3-for-5 with a double, two sacrifice flies, a walk, four RBI and a run scored.

Emilio Bonifacio (2-for-5 with a triple, a RBI and a run scored) singled in John Baker (2-for-3 with a double, a run scored and a sacrifice fly RBI) with the Cubs first run in the third inning. Mike Olt (1-for-2 with a walk, a sac fly and three RBI) singled in Luis Valbuena (3-for-4 with two doubles and a run scored) in the fourth inning. After the Yankees cut the Cubs lead to 2-1 in the sixth, the Cubs scored two runs on consecutive sacrifice flies in the sixth … one by Mike Olt, the other by John Baker.

The Cubs put the game away with two runs off the Yankees pen in the seventh. Starlin Castro (1-for-4 with a RBI) singled in Bonifacio and Mike Olt worked a bases loaded walk that forced in Anthony Rizzo (0-for-3 with two walks and a run scored).

The Cubs scored more runs (four runs, three earned) than any Major League team has against Masahiro Tanaka. And not only was Tanaka hung with his first loss, Tuesday was his shortest outing of the season (six innings). After the way he manhandled the Cubs in the Bronx last month, the Cubs did a very good job of adjusting to him

Derek Jeter received a standing ovation prior to his first at bat and Alfonso Soriano received a warm welcome in his return to Wrigley Field.

With Tuesday’s victory, the Cubs improved to 16-27 on the season.

As the rain picked up, John Baker led off the third inning with a long single to right. Baker slipped on the first base bag or he would have had a double. Jason Hammel bunted Baker to second. With Bonifacio at the plate, Masahiro Tanaka uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Baker to move up to third base. Joe Girardi pulled his infield in and Emilio Bonifacio singled to center. Baker scored, 1-0 Cubs. Junior Lake grounded out to first, Bonifacio advanced to second. Anthony Rizzo worked a rare walk against Tanaka. With two on and two down, Castro grounded out to Brian Roberts, who was shaded up the middle, to end the inning.

At the end of three innings, the Cubs led 1-0.

Jason Hammel retired the Yankees in order in the fourth. Hammel struck out five batters in first four innings and threw 59 pitches, 39 for strikes.

Luis Valbuena led off the fourth with his second double of the game. Valbuena doubled to left and moved up ninety feet when Schierholtz grounded out to second. Girardi pulled his infield in again and Mike Olt pulled a 0-1 pitch into left past a diving Jeter. Valbuena scored, 2-0 Cubs. Olt was o-for-4 in his previous four at bats against Tanaka with four strikeouts. John Baker drove a 3-1 pitch into the gap in left center. Olt stopped at third on Baker’s double. With the infield in, one out and runners on second and third, Hammel bunted. Tanaka picked up the ball and flipped to McCann. Olt broke a little late on a safety squeeze and slid into McCann’s glove. With runners on the corners and two out, Emilio Bonifacio bunted. Tanaka barehanded the ball and flipped to McCann. Baker slid into another out to end the inning.

After four complete, the Cubs had a 2-0 lead.

Hammel made quick work of the Yankees in the fifth (70 pitches, 48 for strikes) and Tanaka struck out the side (Lake, Rizzo and Castro) in order in the bottom of the fifth. The game went to the sixth with the Cubs up 2-0.

Brett Gardner led off the sixth with a double to left. Derek Jeter grounded out to Castro, Gardner advanced to third and held when Castro ran into shallow left and snagged a humpback liner off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury for the second out. Mark Teixeira pulled a 1-1 pitch into right center. Gardner scored, 2-1 Cubs. Hammel walked Brian McCann and Rick Renteria made the slow walk. Renteria went to his pen for Justin Grimm with two on, two out and Alfonso Soriano due up. Soriano pulled Grimm’s first pitch right to Olt at third. Olt fielded the ball cleanly and took the ball to the bag for the third out.

Luis Valbuena led off the sixth with his third hit of the night, a single to left center. Nate Schierholtz singled to right. Valbuena ran on Soriano and went to third base. With runners on the corners and no outs, Mike Olt lifted Tanaka’s first pitch into medium left center. Valbuena and Schierholtz tagged after Gardner made the catch. Mark Teixeira cut the poor throw and tried to throw out Schierholtz at second. Teixeira’s throw was on the left field side of the bag and Schierholtz went to third on E3. John Baker drove a 1-1 pitch out to deep left center. Schierholtz tagged and scored, 4-1 Cubs. Chris Coghlan hit for Justin Grimm and struck out swinging to end the inning.

At the end of six, the Cubs had a 4-1 lead.

Brian Schlitter set down the side in order in the top of the seventh and Preston Claiborne replaced Tanaka for the bottom of the seventh.

Emilio Bonifacio led off the seventh with a triple to right center. With the infield in, Lake grounded out to third for the first out. Rizzo was intentionally walked. With runners on the corners and one out, Starlin Castro blooped a single into left center. Bonifacio scored, 5-1 Cubs. Girardi went to his pen and brought in Matt Thornton to face Valbuena with runners on first and second and one out. Valbuena rolled one out to first. Teixeira fielded the ball and threw to second to force Castro. No one was covering first and the inning continued. Thornton hit Schierholtz with a 1-2 pitch to load the bases. Girardi went back to his pen for sidearm righty Matt Dailey. Mike Olt worked a walk and forced in Rizzo, 6-1 Cubs. Baker struck out swinging to end the inning.

James Russell, Neil Ramirez and Hector Rondon kept the Yankees off the board over the last two innings.

The Cubs wrap-up the two-game series with the Yankees on Wednesday afternoon (1:20pm CDT) … Jeff Samardzija is scheduled to face Chase Whitley.

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  • paulcatanese

    Strong win tonight for the Cubs.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Doubt that was how Olt expected to get 3 RBI tonight. He has as many RBI as Castro hitting way down the lineup and playing 1/3rd less. Not a knock on Castro, but says a lot for Olt. His average was soooo bad to start the season it may never get over .250 but he’s hitting much better the past month. And reducing the K’s somewhat.

    • jtrain23

      Just what he needs to do. This team really needs him to make contact and walk enough to keep himself in the lineup daily. They need his power potential and run production.

      They way to do that is cutting down on k’s, using the whole field, and having less of those plate appearances where he looks clueless and outmatched. He is filling the boxes on these items more all the time and still producing runs.

    • Richard Hood

      Because of limited PA’s he has a good chance of raising that average. I do not think he will end up at .260 but the chance is there just because of how the first month played out.

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  • SuzyS

    I love beating the Yankees,,,be it Boston or Chicago…and what a bonus of beating Tanaka for the first time. Amazing stuff. We might lose a ton of games…but I’m thinking it might actually start becoming entertaining again.

  • triple

    Hopefully the way the Cubs played tonight was a sign of things to come. Kudos to the bottom half of the Cubs lineup (Valbuena, Schierholtz, Olt, and Baker) for coming up big tonight with some solid contact off of Boss Tanaka, and especially in the bottom of the 6th to answer the Yankees surge. The pitching staff was great from top to bottom too. I think the bullpen has really come into it’s own over the last 3 weeks or so. Grimm has had his troubles, so it was nice to see him get Soriano to ground out on one pitch to get them out of the 6th.

  • triple

    Lake and Valbuena have both had a really good month of May… hopefully they can keep up close to the production they’ve managed this month.

    Lake .314/.327/.569/.896/4 doubles/3 HR/12 RBI/17 K’s/2 BB
    It would be nice to see him cut down those K’s a little more, but he is certainly showing potential in what should amount to his first full big league season.

    Valbuena .314/.386/.549/.935/7 doubles/1 triple/1 HR/6 RBI/13 K’s/6 BB
    He could stand to hit better in the clutch, but I think he certainly fits well in the 2 hole.

  • Tony_H

    Nice to get a convincing win against one of the best pitchers to start the year and those mighty Yankees. Of course the AL East might not be as good as some people think it is this year.

    Run differential
    Toronto +10
    Baltimore -1
    Yankees -13
    Boston -15
    Tampa -25

    it is the only division in baseball that has only 1 team with a positive run differential. The Cubs have a +2 run differential and are tied for 12th in that category.

    • Sonate

      Glad you mentioned the Cubs run differential, which implies they should be a 500 ball club (e.g., 22-21) instead of 16-27. Other than weak bullpen performance and bad luck, what can cause such a huge differential between what their record should be versus what it IS. Poor managing? (I’m just asking.)

      • Tony_H

        I think that bullpen had the biggest effect on this. The early main guys were Veras (12.27 ERA 2.32 WHIP) and Strop (4.97 ERA 1.50 WHIP) at the end of games add in other bad performances and we had games we should have won, that we lost. Villanueva’s bullpen outings to start the year were horrible (along with his starts). The difference in their record and what it should be based on the Pythagorean Theorem is about 6 games.

        As far as managing, I am sure Renteria has cost some games in his first 2 months of his rookie season. But just like with players, it is a learning experience that all 1st time managers have to go through. Not everyone gets a Matheny or Ausmus type situation with a team to help cover up their rookie mistakes.

        Plus keep in mind the concept behind the Pythagorean Theorem is to predict future performance, in a better way than just looking at the teams W/L record and assuming the team will continue at the same pace.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Pythagorean_Theorem_of_Baseball

        http://replacementlevel.com/stuff/sg/Calculators.html

        The calculator shows that the Cubs, if they can maintain their run differential the rest of the year, should win 76 games this year. Of course, it doesn’t allow for changes in the roster and as with all numbers, stats, etc, is just for analysis and to help with looking at trying to predict future performance.

        • BigJonLilJon

          Didn’t that 1 game where they scored 17 a week or 2 ago sway the run differential line as well? Take that game out and then the number better reflects the 16-27 record I would think.

          • Tony_H

            Of course it did. You can take it out and refigure. But all teams have games on either end of the spectrum that have an affect on this number. Take those out for all teams and refigure. But, what if a team has 2 of those, do you take out 2 for some teams.

            This is what it is and the Cubs have a 16-27 record for many reason.

          • GaryLeeT

            I think timely hitting, and run scoring is a main issue. A true clean-up hitter, would go a long way in resolving that.

          • DWalker

            Timely hitting for sure is a problem. Also that a good chunk of the lineups run out there have 3+ dead weights in them. You can get away with Olts learning curve, Barney’s defense or even just a medicore or struggling player if you only have one or two real weaknesses in your lineup. 3+ many nights, its just too much to overcome. the fact that they DO have such a good run differntial and so many close games tells me that they are close to being a watchable team, but, they need to fill one or two of those problem spots with someone effective every night. Right now, they are trying it by hot streak and guesswork. Of course, a consistant, capable bullpen goes a long ways too.

          • Tony_H

            I changed that game to an 8-5 W instead of 17-5 W, basically just removing the piling on, but not the W.

            It then says 73-71 for a final record this year.

          • BigJonLilJon

            Thanks for doing the math…. looks better than I had thought it would!!

          • Tony_H

            No problem, you had me curious.

          • triple

            Nice work Tony… I was thinking about that 17 run game when I was looking at their expected W/L record last night. You basically accounted for it for removing the “piling on” aspect of that Cards game, but also, if we remove the outlier in runs scored, then we should just remove the outlier in runs allowed, and shouldn’t that balance it out? The Cardinals managed to score 10 runs on the Cubs back in April.

          • Tony_H

            Absolutely!!! That is why you really just have to take it like any other stat, treat it for what it is not try to manipulate it to reach a desired outcome.

  • Tony_H

    How about Jason Hammel after 9 starts!

    2.91 ERA
    0.90 WHIP
    .190 BAA
    3.76 K/BB
    5-2 W-L

    And another pitcher who Bosio has turned around.

    • K_Gripp

      I think Bosio could be a great long term fixture for the Cubs. All positives from him so far.

  • BosephHeyden

    I have extremely low expectations for this team, but I’ll say this: if this team can finish 10 games under .500, I’ll consider it somewhat of a success for them. Low expectations, but given the end results of the last two seasons, better than close to 100 losses.

  • GaryLeeT

    For the Baez hand wringers like myself. Since Friday, he has only 2 strikeouts in 20 PAs, and has raised his average from .145 to .176

  • xaxinho

    Beautiful game to watch. People talk a lot about Mike Olt power, but Valbuena deserves a lot of credit. He is having great at bats

    • John_CC

      He really should be starting at 2B everyday except against the toughest lefties.

    • John_CC

      He really should be starting at 2B everyday except against the toughest lefties.

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