Not that a loss would have been devastating, but with the roll the Cubs have been on since the break you really wanted a series win to extend the lead at the top of the division. Two-and-a-half games isn’t a mountain—it feels a hell of a lot better than a half-game, though. We’d all like to believe that there’s some mental edge too, by going into Milwaukee, kicking the Brewers while they’re down for a bit, and asserting authority. Of course, we know that’s not really a thing. But doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the non-existent feeling though.
The Cubs got strong work from John Lackey again, which gave them the slack to out-wait Kyle Davies, or at least until his luck ran out in the 6th when a few bleeders and wheezing avians found holes and gaps. Lackey’s luck rebounded on him in the bottom half, though, when Domingo Santana’s seemingly harmless fly to right billiarded off the top of the wall. It was hard to watch, as Contreras and Almora had hit balls earlier in the game that looked to be twice as hard that landed in leather.
Never fear, Victor Caratini was able to touch up a Davies fastball in the very next inning that the seemingly dead air in Miller Park couldn’t hold back. Throw in a Bryant add-on and more excellent work from the pen, and you got yourself a W flag.
Lackey put up his sixth good start out of seven, the only blip coming in DC. There’s only been five earned runs in the past three starts, and eight in the last four. While we mock and make fun, he’s been more effective than most 5th starters you’ll find. His slider was truly biting today, sweeping out of the zone instead of just bending as it was earlier in the year. He’s been as much of a part of the rotation renaissance the past three weeks as anyone.
Don’t look now, but Hector Rondon has strung together four straight scoreless outings, with five Ks and two walks in that time. It’s not a much of a sample, and his location isn’t quite what you remember from his dominant days but you’ve got to start somewhere. He even touched 98 on the gun, which I don’t ever remember him doing before. Still, probably won’t keep the Cubs from adding another arm out there before we all reconvene again on Tuesday.
All in all, a pretty clean win. No muss, no fuss.
Top WPA Play: Caratini’s (first-career) bomb in the 7th that put the Cubs up 3-2. Nice calling card for what could be his last game in the majors for a bit, depending on what the Cubs do tomorrow. (+.202)
Bottom WPA Play: Santana’s homer in the sixth, which apologetically and sheepishly carried itself over the wall in the right field corner. (-.273).
Lead photo courtesy Benny Sieu—USA Today Sports