Game One Hundred Twelve – Cubs 3, Angels 1
WP – Jason Hammel (12-5) LP – Ricky Nolasco (4-9) Save – Aroldis Chapman (24)
Jason Hammel shut down the Angels for seven innings. Anthony Rizzo and Dexter Fowler drove in the first two runs. Carl Edwards Jr. saved the game with an excellent eighth inning in relief of an injured Pedro Strop. Addison Russell launched a solo homer for a much-needed insurance run in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth as the Cubs completed the sweep of the Angels.
The Cubs won their ninth game in a row, completed the series and season-series sweep of the Angels and improved to a season-high 30 games over .500.
Jason Hammel was outstanding again Wednesday and limited the Angels to four hits, all singles, and two walks in seven innings. With the offense hitting a lot of loud outs and deep fly outs to Mike Trout in center and Kole Calhoun in right field, the difference in the two run victory was the defense.
The Cubs made all the plays behind Jason Hammel and the bullpen. Javier Baez, Addison Russell and Jason Heyward stood out in the field.
Willson Contreras arguably had his best game defensively in the big leagues Wednesday night. Not only was Contreras on the same page with Hammel, he stopped one ball after the other in the dirt. In the eighth inning alone with the Cubs clinging to a two-run lead and the tying runs in scoring position, Contreras kept three balls from getting past him with Albert Pujols at the plate that would have otherwise allowed the Angels to tie the game.
Jason Hammel pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits with two walks and six strikeouts on 101 pitches, 69 for strikes. Hammel helped out his own cause and scored the Cubs second run in the fifth inning.
The Cubs broke up the scoreless game in the third inning. Kris Bryant (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) doubled to left with two outs. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a RBI) smoked a 2-2 pitch toward right. The ball ate up Gregorio Petit in shallow right. Bryant did not break stride around third and scored easily when Petit bobbled the ball.
The Cubs added a run in the fifth after taking advantage of an Angels’ mistake.
Jason Hammel (1-for-2 with a run scored) reached on a bloop single to right with one out. A wild pitch with Fowler at the plate allowed Hammel to move up 90 feet. Dexter Fowler (2-for-4 with a double and a RBI) bounced a 2-0 pitch down the third baseline. Hammel scored on a double from Fowler, 2-0 Cubs.
With the way Hammel was pitching and the backend of pen setup for Joe Maddon, it appeared the Cubs would be able to make the two runs hold up. Hammel turned the game over to Pedro Strop in the eighth.
Pedro Strop faced one batter, Yunel Escobar, before he had to be helped off the field. Escobar bounced a 2-0 pitch up the third baseline. Strop made a diving stop and tried to pop up to make a throw to first. Strop appeared to jam his left knee. Strop limped toward the mound before bending over in obvious pain. Strop was unable to put any weight on his left leg. After a visit from the Cubs’ trainer and Joe Maddon, Javier Baez helped Strop off the field and he was replaced by Travis Wood. Strop hurt his left knee and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Thursday to determine the severity of the injury.
Kole Calhoun greeted Travis Wood by ripping his first pitch into the gap in left center. The Angels put runners on second and third with no outs. And Maddon went back to his pen for Carl Edwards Jr.
Carl Edwards Jr. struck out Mike Trout swinging for the first out.
Edwards Jr. jumped ahead of Albert Pujols 0-2 but could not get him to chase. Contreras kept three balls in the dirt from getting past him. Pujols smoked a 3-2 pitch back up the middle. Ben Zobrist was positioned perfectly and snagged the grounder. Escobar scored from third as Zobrist threw out Pujols at first. Addison Russell charged a slow roller off the bat of Simmons and threw out the Angels shortstop to end the inning.
Carl Edwards Jr. limited the damage to one run after entering the game with runners on second and third, no outs and Mike Trout and Albert Pujols waiting to hit … just a tremendous job by the young right-hander.
Addison Russell (1-for-4 with a home run) crushed a 1-2 pitch from J.C. Ramirez in the bottom of the eighth with two outs. Russell’s towering blast into the bleachers in left center gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead and swung the momentum back to the Cubs.
Aroldis Chapman struck out Jett Bandy (swinging), Geovany Soto (swinging) and Cliff Pennington (swinging) to end the game.
With Wednesday’s win, the Cubs improved to a season-high 30 games over .500 with a 71-41 record.
The Cubs welcome the Cardinals to Wrigley on Thursday (7:05pm CDT) for the first of a four-game series. Jon Lester is scheduled to take on Carlos Martinez in the opener.