Baker and Sweeney Back Hammel in Cubs Win over the Nationals– Cubs 7, Nationals 2

Game Seventy-Eight: Cubs 7, Nationals 2

WP – Jason Hammel (7-5) LP – Tanner Roark (7-5) Save – None

wflag-pub2014Rick Renteria received production from unexpected sources Friday afternoon as the Cubs beat the Nationals in the second game of the series Friday afternoon. John Baker drove in four of the Cubs’ seven runs and Ryan Sweeney delivered a two-out, two-run single in the fourth that broke a 2-2 tie and ended up being the game winner.

John Baker (3-for-3 with a double, four RBI, a run scored and a walk) entered play Friday with four RBI on the season and Baker equaled his season total in one afternoon. Baker singled in Luis Valbuena (1-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and a walk) and tied the game at one in the second inning and delivered a bases clearing double in the seventh that put the game away.

Ryan Sweeney (2-for-5 with two RBI) delivered the go ahead hit in the fourth that plated Chris Coghlan (2-for-4 with two runs scored) and John Baker.

The bottom of the Cubs lineup went 7-for-14 with one double, five RBI and three runs scored.

Darwin Barney (1-for-4 with a RBI) drove in the Cubs second run in the second inning and Justin Ruggiano (2-for-5 with a double and a run scored) scored on John Baker’s bases clearing double in the seventh.

The Cubs scored seven runs on 13 hits on a day Anthony Rizzo (1-for-5) and Starlin Castro (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) were not factors at the plate.

Jason Hammel put together another very good outing in what might have been his last start of the season in a Cubs’ uniform at Wrigley Field. Hammel struggled a little early but was able to limit the damage in the second inning. Hammel made only two mistakes on the afternoon, a run scoring double by Ryan Zimmerman in the second and a solo homer by Adam LaRoche in the fourth.

Jason Hammel shut the door after LaRoche’s solo shot in the fourth. Hammel found a rhythm, kept the ball down and threw strikes. Hammel retired 10 batters in a row before surrendering a one-out single to Wilson Ramos in the seventh. Rick Renteria went to his pen as soon as Hammel gave up the hit to Ramos and Brian Schlitter closed out the seventh with three pitches.

Jason Hammel gave up two runs on five hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Hammel threw 101 pitches, 64 for strikes, in 6 1/3 innings.

Brian Schlitter, Wesley Wright and Justin Grimm wrapped up the game with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.

With Friday’s win, the Cubs improved to 34-44 on the season.

Adam LaRoche has always hit well against Cubs’ pitching and he led off the second with a single to center on a 2-0 pitch. Ryan Zimmerman followed and pulled Hammel’s first pitch into left. LaRoche lumbered around the bases and was waived in to his surprise. LaRoche slid in just ahead of Castro’s throw … 1-0 Nationals. Zimmerman went to third on the play and Hammel was in trouble. Hammel jumped ahead of Ramos 0-2 before missing with a 3-2 pitch and walking him. With runners on the corners and no outs, Ian Desmond chopped a 0-1 pitch toward third. Valbuena fielded the ball cleanly and threw home. Baker caught the ball and tagged Zimmerman out … the second time in two days Zimmerman made an out at the plate. With runners on first and second with one out, a 0-1 pitch in the dirt to Espinosa got away from Baker. Both runners moved up ninety feet. Hammel struck out Danny Espinosa and retired Tanner Roark on a tap back to the mound to end the inning. Hammel avoided a big inning and threw 29 pitches, 17 for strikes, over the first two innings.

Luis Valbuena led off the second with a double into the right field corner. Chris Coghlan reached on an infield single to the hole at short. Desmond did an excellent job of getting to the ball and keeping it on the infield, but he did not have a play at first and put the ball in his back pocket. John Baker stepped in with runners on first and second with no outs and hit a sharp single back up the middle and into center. Valbuena scored and tied the game at one … and Coghlan held at third with no outs. Darwin Barney blooped a single into center. Coghlan scored, 2-1 Cubs. With runners on first and second with no outs, Jason Hammel bunted the ball back to the mound. Roark picked it up and threw a strike to third that nailed Baker. Hammel beat the throw to first. Ryan Sweeney popped out to short and Ruggiano struck out swinging to end the inning. The Cubs made Tanner Roark work and it took him 51 pitches, 38 for strikes, to complete two innings Friday afternoon.

After two innings, the Cubs led 2-1.

The game remained 2-1 Cubs until it was time for Adam LaRoche to hit again. LaRoche led off the fourth with a solo home run to right. LaRoche hit a rocket into the basket in right and tied the game at two. Hammel settled back in and retired Zimmerman, Ramos and Desmond in order to end the inning. Hammel needed 64 pitches, 40 for strikes, to complete four innings.

Chris Coghlan led off the Cubs’ fourth with a single to right on the first pitch from Roark. John Baker singled to left for his second hit of the game. With runners on first and second and no outs, Barney hit a slow roller toward short. Desmond had only one play, to first, and both runners advanced ninety feet. With runners on second and third, Hammel struck out swinging. Ryan Sweeney lined a 0-1 pitch into left. Coghlan and Baker scored, 4-2 Cubs. Justin Ruggiano singled to left but Rizzo popped out to center to end the inning … 76 pitches for Roark after four innings, 56 for strikes.

The Cubs led 4-2 after four innings.

And the game remained 4-2 until the seventh inning. Jason Hammel shut down the Nationals in the fifth and sixth before Rick Renteria went to his pen for Brian Schlitter to record the final two outs in the seventh.

Former Cubs’ farmhand Jerry Blevins took over for Tanner Roark in the seventh. Justin Ruggiano led off the inning with a double off the ivy in left center. A wild pitch with Rizzo at the plate allowed Ruggiano to take third. Matt Williams brought his infield in. Rizzo hit a blooper behind the second base bag. Ian Desmond raced out and made an over the shoulder catch for the first out. Blevins intentionally walked Starlin Castro. And Luis Valbuena worked a walk (3-2 pitch) to load the bases. Chris Coghlan looked at a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Coghlan did not like the call, but it was a strike. John Baker stepped in with the bags loaded and two outs. Baker pulled a 0-1 pitch into the right field corner. Ruggiano, Castro and Valbuena all scored, 7-2 Cubs. Matt Williams decided that was enough for Blevins and went to his pen for Aaron Barrett. Barney struck out swinging to end the inning.

After seven complete, the Cubs led 7-2.

Wesley Wright kept the Nationals off the board in the eighth and Justin Grimm pitched a scoreless ninth.

The Cubs play a day-night doubleheader Saturday against the Nationals at Wrigley Field. Dallas Beeler makes his big league debut against Gio Gonzalez in game one (12:05pm CDT) and Jeff Samardzija faces Blake Treinen in game two (6:15pm CDT) under the lights.

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  • triple

    Like I’ve been saying for a while, and I’ll say it again (like a broken record)… This roster is gelling together quite well and they are playing like a team. They are not giving away at bats, they’re not making base running blunders, and they are even hitting the cut-off man more often. The pitching has been outstanding. And these players keep picking each other up, and taking advantage of the bounces. This is the most fun Cubs team to watch in 5 years! I have no doubts that they can continue this. It would be really nice to see them send Olt down, let Valbuena play 3rd more, and bring up Alcantara and get him playing 2nd and batting leadoff. It could be just the boost they need to maintain their quality of play even after the trade deadline.

    • John_CC

      Fundamentals. Something that has been preached for 3 years, I hoped Sveum could instill them but didn’t. Seems like RR and his crew are doing well in this aspect. It is important and it shows. This Cubs team lacks talent but solid fundamentals will keep a team in games. Their run differential is evidence.

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

        Well said. I think you make a good point that is going largely uncredited. Rick Renteria.

        We knew we had one of baseball’s best in Chris Bosio but for a first year manager RR is really doing a solid job. I think the staff all deserve kudos. Mueller, Hinske, the whole gang. But it trickles down from RR.

        • Denver Mike

          RR has made some questionable calls regarding the bullpen, but I tend to agree. Every first year manager will have his growing pains, and it is pretty easy to see the difference in how the team is carrying itself now vs. when Sveum was here. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of impact this staff can have as more legit talent makes its way to the big club.

          • John_CC

            Agreed. I am not saying that he is a great manager, I question his game decisions too. Everyone does and they yell loudly of course and immediately condemn him as a foolish manager.

            My point is that the solid fundamental play of the team is masked by all the losing and RR doesn’t get credit because of his bullpen handling, which is not fair. Last year was a comedy of errors, quite literally, with poor base runner, poor bunting, poor situational hitting, etc. I am looking forward to a team with a few more veterans to pick up Rizzo and Castro, who will be young veteran leaders to the first wave of prospect talent. But they need to go out and sign at a least a couple solid veterans.

          • Denver Mike

            I’ll be scouting the next wave tonight, headed down to Colorado Springs to see the Iowa Cubs. Looking forward to seeing some of Alcantara, Baez, Bryant, Watkins, Szczur, Kalish, and Jokisch in person. Living out here I might not have a chance to see them again for a while, unless they’re on the big club when they roll through Denver in August!

  • triple

    Here is the Cubs number of wins on June 27th over the last 6 years, followed by total wins at the season’s end in parenthesis:

    ’09: 35 (83)
    ’10: 33 (75)
    ’11: 32 (71)
    ’12: 26 (61)
    ’13: 33 (66)
    ’14: 34 (??)

    So, can they play well enough to win at least 70 games this season? Yes. Is it possible to play well enough and win 80? Unlikely, but a possibility…. Not saying it’s gonna happen, but it’s a long season, and this is why they actually play the games instead of looking at the lineup and awarding a win to the team who has better names written down.

    • BigJonLilJon

      Once the trade dead line gets closer and 40% of the rotation is gone, the win totals shall drop as well. Who knows who else gets traded from the offensive side also. We’ve had a nice run since May 17th and it’s been fun to watch. I just caution all to not get caught up in a good 3 weeks and be realistic of what’s coming soon.

      • triple

        Ok… It’s a good 6 weeks, not 3. In fact, the Cubs played a really bad first quarter to the season (13-27), and are following it up with a pretty good 2nd quarter to the season (21-17), I guess with 3 games to go until they’ve played 81. And 20-40% of the rotation will be gone. The Cubs are 3-13 in Samardzija’s starts, so it’s not too far-fetched to think that there could be improvement with a lesser pitcher taking his spot in the rotation. Stranger things have happened!?!? Rizzo and Castro are going nowhere, so I don’t know what other offensive players you are talking about who will get traded that will take away from the Cubs production. And I’d like to think that the minor leaguers who will be promoted soon enough have been well versed in the “Cubs Way” to a point that when they make it to the big leagues, they will play the game the same way as our lesser talented players they replace, and hopefully with even better results. So I will definitely not use caution in enjoying the fact that this team is playing good baseball. This is sport and fandom, and most use these things as a way to escape the mundane tasks and happenings in every day life, and add to our enjoyment, not to minimize it. Why should I worry and be pessimistic about something so out of my control (the Cubs), especially when it has no effect on myself, or my family, in any sort of health or financial aspect? I’m gonna enjoy the ride, and I’m also going to expect some bumps in the road, but I’m not gonna be negative about things because the Cubs aren’t doing it how I want it done.

        • Brp921

          Samardziga has been facing other teams best pitchers. Once he and Hammel are gone and the other three move up in the rotation then their records will probably suffer somewhat. We have to hope the guys they bring up will pitch as well as the bottom three in the rotation have up until now. The schedule is a little easier in the second half than the first, I believe, so that could help. It will be nice to see some of the younger guys get a shot to prove themselves. I think regardless of the record in the second half, this team will be more fun to watch than the last couple of years, because we’ll be watching some young guys with a chance to stick around, while looking forward to seeing the Bryants and Baez’s etc… make the team at some point next year.

          • Tony_H

            At this point in the season it is hard to say they always face the other teams best pitchers. Most teams have them on a rotation and don’t skip starts very often to create #1 vs #1 matchups. After the All-Star break we will see some teams reset their rotation and others just keep going in the same rotation so that all pitchers get the extra 3 days off.

          • Brp921

            It would be interesting to know. I didn’t look it up but just looking at the run support he’s gotten through quite a few starts, it seems like at least quite a few of them would have been against some pretty good pitching.

          • Tony_H

            Not many TOR match-ups, if anything a lot of 4/5’s.

            3/31 Liriano
            4/5 C Lee
            4/11 Joe Kelly
            4/18 A Simon
            4/23 W Miley
            4/29 A Simon
            5/5 Quintana
            5/10 E Santana
            5/16 Lohse
            5/21 Whitely
            5/26 Petit
            6/1 Lohse
            6/7 Wolf
            6/12 Volquez
            6/17 DeScalfani
            6/23 A Simon

          • Brp921

            Wow, thanks for the research. I guess the Cubs hitters can make a lot of pitchers look good on a given day lol. It seems there’s always one pitcher in a given year that gets almost no run support.

  • paulcatanese

    Pleased for Baker, he had a great day, nice to see him on base with a big smile.

  • Eugene Debs

    That’s a solid win right there.

  • Tom U

    The Cubs top 5 minor league clubs all win tonight:

    Iowa Cubs 16-3
    Tennessee Smokies 6-5
    Daytona Cubs 1-0
    Kane County Cougars 3-2
    Boise Hawks 11-1

    • triple

      Nice! Looking into how some of the players did and couldn’t help to notice that Bryant’s already got his average up to .303 with 5HR and 11RBI. His OBP is pushing .400 already… just need to cut way down on those K’s.

      And Arismendy Alcantara’s numbers are starting to look ridiculous! Does he just keep getting better or what?

      .301 BA/ .343 OBP/ .547 SLG w/ 21 doubles, 10 triples, 10 HRs, and 39 RBIs… almost half of his hits are of the extra base variety!

      How much longer till you think he gets called up?

      • Tony_H

        I would say by July 31st.

        • triple

          I am certainly hoping by then too.