What You Need To Know: Coming into tonight’s game against Johnny Cueto and the Giants, Cub hitters had hit twelve home runs since the beginning of this current homestand, which began last Tuesday. This figure led the National League during the timeframe, and the Cubs continued their recent torrid home run pace by adding three more home runs on Tuesday night. Anthony Rizzo went deep, Jason Heyward went deep, and Kyle Schwarber went Sheffield.
That ball's got a chance …
to land in Lake Michigan. pic.twitter.com/dH0n69Q9td
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 24, 2017
Oh, and Jon Lester pitched a Maddux tonight, going the distance on just 98 pitches.
Next Level: After the Joe Panik game last night, it was important for the Cubs to set the tone early against the Giants and not fall behind once again. Jon Lester accomplished this objective with ease as he struck out the side in the top of the first, and dominated the Giants the rest of the night to the tune of 10 strikeouts versus no walks. Over his last two starts Lester’s pitching line is 15 innings, four earned runs (three of which came after he exited the ball game last week against the Reds), and 15 strikeouts to only one walk.
Lester’s ascent to his usual stellar form could not be more welcome, as his complete game tonight marked the first time this year a Cubs starting pitcher worked into the at least the eighth inning. For comparison’s sake, the 2016 Cubs only had to wait ten games for Jake Arrieta to pitch in the eighth inning. For a multitude of reasons (short rest after pitching into November the previous year, old age, injuries, etc.) the Cubs starting pitching staff has not performed up to expectations thus far in 2017. Hopefully, this Lester start begins to change that.
One final note: while Lester didn’t need too much help tonight, tonight marked the second night in a row where the Cubs played the outstanding defense we grew accustomed to seeing in 2016. The surest way to put separation between the .500 mark and the rest of the division is for the Cubs to follow tonight’s formula of strong starting pitching and stellar defense. To that end, let’s hope the great defensive slump of 2017 is finally over.
Top WPA Play: Rizzo’s blast to right center and Schwarber’s blast to Navy Pier tied for the highest Cub WPA play of the night (+.103).
Bottom WPA Play: Brandon Crawford’s double to right in the top of the fifth plated Buster Posey for the Giants only run of the night (-0.064).
Lead photo courtesy Dennis Wierzbicki—USA Today Sports