Game Ninety-One – Cubs 1, Rangers 4
WP – Cole Hamels (10-2) LP – John Lackey (7-6) Save – Sam Dyson (19)
The Cubs were unable to complete the three-game sweep of the Rangers. John Lackey was hit hard early in the game and gave up three runs in the first four innings. And with Cole Hamels on the hill at Wrigley it was too big of a hole to dig out of as the Cubs lost the finale of the series on Sunday afternoon.
Cole Hamels was lifted after the eighth inning and allowing one unearned run on four hits and no walks. Hamels struck out seven on 91 pitches, 65 for strikes, and came within one inning of becoming the first pitcher to throw a complete game against the Cubs this season.
Javier Baez (1-for-4 with a double and a RBI) notched the Cubs first hit, a double to left in the third inning that plated Albert Almora Jr. (0-for-3 with a run scored) for the only run off Hamels. The Cubs really didn’t put anything together against Hamels, 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left three runners on base. The Cubs got four hits against Hamels, a major improvement from the last time he faced them. Hamels struck out the first six batters he faced and looked like he was on the way to make history again at Wrigley Field.
John Lackey settled down after a rough start and should have been lifted after seven innings. Joe Maddon let Lackey pitch the eighth and he served up a solo home run to Ian Desmond. Lackey missed up in the zone early in the game and the Rangers pounced. If not for excellent defensive plays from Albert Almora Jr. and Addison Russell, Lackey’s final line would have been more representative of the way he pitched.
The Rangers scored a pair of runs in the second inning after Prince Fielder and Ryan Rua led off the frame with back-to-back singles. Lackey caught Nomar Mazara looking but Elvis Andrus singled to center and plated Fielder with the game’s first run.
Robinson Chirinos had a big game against his first organization. Chirinos just missed a three-run homer with a deep fly to center. Albert Almora Jr. made a tremendous catch before crashing into the ivy. Rua tagged and scored from third, 2-0 Rangers. Cole Hamels followed with a single before Rougned Odor flied out to right to end the inning.
The Cubs finally got a hit and put a run on the board against Cole Hamels in the third inning. Albert Almora Jr. reached on an error by Adrian Beltre with one out. Lackey popped out to Odor in right for the second out.
Javier Baez ripped a double to the left field corner. Almora Jr. scored and cut the Rangers lead in half. Baez swiped third with Bryant at the plate. Cole Hamels struck out Kris Bryant (1-for-4) looking to end the inning.
John Lackey gave the run and the momentum right back. And his antics have gotten extremely old. Lackey is not putting his team in position to win the game. Until he does again, maybe a little less ‘it’s all about me’ would be more appropriate. Lackey issued back-to-back walks to Rua and Mazara to start the fourth. Lackey struck out Andrus swinging. But Robinson Chirinos blooped a double to left. Rua scored, 3-1 Rangers. With runners on second and third with one out, Hamels bunted to Bryant and Odor struck out swinging to end the inning.
John Lackey completed eight innings and allowed four runs, all earned, on six hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Lackey threw 112 pitches, 77 for strikes.
Clayton Richard pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning and was rather sharp with an efficient 15-pitch inning.
In the end, the Cubs won the series (2-1). One of these days, the Cubs will figure out and beat Cole Hamels.
With Sunday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 55-36 (7-8 on Sundays) on the season.
The Cubs welcome the Mets to Wrigley on Monday (6:05pm CDT). Jon Lester is scheduled to face Steven Matz in the first of three with the Metropolitans.