What You Need To Know: This is what Cubs fans have been waiting for, or pining for, for a good portion of the season. An early pantsing of a starter who didn’t have it, everyone in the lineup looks dangerous, and then a cruise for seven-to-eight innings as you rack up yet another win. This is what most of them looked like two years ago. They’ve been scarcer this year but have still happened more often than you think. Either way, it happened today and the Cubs nor Kyle Hendricks had to sweat. Six runs in the first three innings sapped the drama out of this one early.
Next Level: Kyle Schwarber basically wrapped it up in the second with his first homer off a lefty all season, and it wasn’t a cheapy. Schwar-bombs like this one, all 444-feet of them, are the best because after he hits it looks as if he’s insulted you wasted is time with such a pitch. He didn’t want to have to do that to a baseball, but you left him no choice.
– Kyle Hendricks was staked to a three-run lead and he didn’t even need it. A little more fly-out happy, which six of them of his 23 collected coming via the air, but 10 on the ground which sounds about right. He was also heavier on his change-up than we’ve seen all season, with 46 of his 104 pitches being that change. It only got four whiffs, but against this lineup who cares? Hendricks has piled up 16 1/3rd innings the past two starts, which shapes up nicely for what lies ahead.
– Ben Zobrist collected three more hits, raising his average to .314. He’ll finish the year above .300 for the first time in his career. Quite frankly, there isn’t going to be anyone else I want up in a big spot in the playoffs.
– The Cubs have been able to take the gas off on their pen since the day off, with De La Rosa getting the last four outs. Cishek, Edwards, Wilson, and Chavez were only required last night, and Joe Maddon will want that kind of usage from here on out if at all possible.
– Not much else to add to this one. The Magic Number is 5, which means three of four from the Pirates will get them at the line if not over it. It’s almost there.
Top WPA Play: Rizzo’s double in the first that opened the scoring and set up two more. (+.138)
Bottom WPA Play: Tim Anderson’s double that scored the Sox only run, that Happ maybe should have had anyway. (-.26)
Lead photo courtesy @Cubs on Twitter