Game Nine – Cubs 8, Reds 1
WP – Jason Hammel (1-0) LP – Raisel Iglesias (1-1) Save – None
The game was much closer than the final score indicates. The Cubs managed three runs in the first seven innings which was enough for Jason Hammel, Travis Wood and Pedro Strop. The offense went to work against Reds’ closer J.J. Hoover in the eighth and put a five-spot on the board. Bryan Price had to use Jumbo Diaz for the last two outs in the eighth inning.
It doesn’t matter the score or the inning, the Cubs simply do not giveaway at-bats. Kris Bryant started the five-run eighth inning with a one-out walk. The Cubs walked only five times Thursday night but it felt like a lot more than the final tally. The Cubs worked at-bats all night with seemingly one three-ball count after another.
Before the offense kept the manual scoreboard operator hopping in the eighth inning, Jason Hammel was the story of the game. Hammel had a good outing on the mound and was responsible for two of the Cubs first three runs. Hammel appeared to have problems gripping the baseball in the third and fourth innings which led to command issues. Hammel pitched his way in and out of a couple of jams without allowing any runs.
Jason Hammel completed six innings and allowed four hits and four walks with three strikeouts on 88 pitches, 56 for strikes.
At the plate, Jason Hammel (1-for-2 with a double, a run scored and a RBI) hit one of the hardest balls of the game in the fifth. With the Cubs leading 1-0 after Kris Bryant (2-for-3 with a home run, a walk and two runs scored) smoked a solo homer into the left field bleachers in the second inning, Addison Russell (3-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI) singled to center to start the fifth. Instead of bunting Russell to second, Maddon had Hammel swing away. Hammel drove a 1-0 pitch over Jay Bruce’s head in right field. Russell scored from first on the opposite field double. Dexter Fowler (3-for-4 with a walk and two RBI) walked.
Jason Heyward (0-for-5) rolled out to Phillips at second base. But instead of a 4-6-3 double play, Phillips had to settle for the sure out at first base after bobbling the ball. Hammel and Fowler moved up 90 feet on Heyward’s productive out.
Ben Zobrist (0-for-3 with a walk and a sac fly RBI) lifted a 0-1 pitch from Raisel Iglesias to deep center. Hammel tagged and scored as Fowler moved to third base. Anthony Rizzo (0-for-4) grounded out to end the inning.
Jason Hammel, Travis Wood and Pedro Strop kept the shutout intact. And the Cubs took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth.
Kris Bryant walked with one out. Jorge Soler batted for Strop and walked. Miguel Montero (2-for-4 with a run scored) singled to right. Bryant held at third and the Cubs had the bases loaded with one out.
Addison Russell broke his bat and blooped a single into right center. Bryant scored, 4-0 Cubs. Matt Szczur (0-for-1 with a walk, a run scored and a RBI) walked on four pitches and forced Soler in from third base. Dexter Fowler singled to right. Montero and Russell scored, 7-0 Cubs. Bryan Price decided that was enough for Hoover and went to his pen for Jumbo Diaz with runners on the corners and one out.
Jason Heyward blooped Diaz’s first pitch into right center. Jay Bruce made a sensational diving catch running toward the infield. Bruce tried to double up Fowler at first. But no one was covering the bag. The ball sailed into foul ground. Szczur scored from third and made it 8-0. Zobrist struck out swinging to end the inning.
Justin Grimm gave up a run in the ninth after Jay Bruce singled and Adam Duvall doubled. Jordan Pacheco flied out to center. Tucker Barnhart grounded out to short. Bruce scampered in from third and broke up the shutout. Grimm caught pinch-hitter Scott Schebler looking to end the game.
The Cubs outscored the Reds 22-3 after David Ross singled with two outs in the seventh inning of Monday’s game to breakup Brandon Finnegan’s no-hit bid.
With Thursday’s win, the Cubs improved to 8-1 after nine games for the first time since 1969. The Cubs have now started a season 8-1 six times in franchise history (1876, 1879, 1880, 1934, 1969 and 2016).
The Cubs begin a three-game series with the Rockies on Friday afternoon (1:20pm CDT) … Kyle Hendricks versus Chad Bettis.