After losing a winnable pair of games to the Cardinals to end their 11-game winning streak and splitting that series, the Cubs resumed winning with this one, the daytime half of a split doubleheader. This was a make-up of the game rained out on April 27.
The Cubs were 74-43 after this win and led the N.L. Central by 12½ games.
If it's just going on Tuesday's results, I'd keep Cahill and say goodbye to Joe Smith, as Cahill threw five solid shutout innings and Smith was again shaky in the ninth. The Cubs won the game 4-0, getting good hitting performances from Chris Coghlan (double, run scored, sac fly) and Dexter Fowler (two walks, a run).
Coghlan was involved in a scary play in the third inning. Addison Russell backed into left field and Coghlan came in toward shortstop on a fly ball hit by Brewers catcher Manny Pina. Somehow, signals got crossed and the two collided, Coghlan falling to the field:
At first it looked serious -- did he get hit in the face? Was there a possible concussion? But after Joe Maddon and trainer P.J. Mainville came out, Coghlan got up, looked just shaken up, and stayed in the game. It was after that when Coghlan had his double and RBI sac fly, so I guess he's OK.
Meanwhile, Cahill was mowing down Brewers hitters. Only one Brewers runner got past first base against him, that on a stolen-base attempt by Keon Broxton after a fifth-inning walk. Miguel Montero's throw went into center field, but Broxton was stranded at third base. Cahill showed absolutely no rust and no sign of any injury. He threw 50 strikes in 83 pitches and recorded seven outs on ground balls. For good measure he picked Jonathan Villar off first base after Villar led off the game with a single:
In addition, Miguel Montero threw out Kirk Nieuwenhuis trying to steal, only the fifth runner (in 57 attempts) Montero has thrown out this year.
The Cubs scored single runs in the first (RBI sac fly by Russell), third (wild pitch with Fowler on third) and fourth (RBI sac bunt by Cahill), a nice mix of offensive production on a beautifully sunny afternoon with the wind blowing in over right field.
Mike Montgomery threw the sixth and seventh without incident and was allowed to start the eighth. He was quickly removed in favor of Hector Rondon when he allowed a leadoff single to Pina.
Hector... well, he was better than he was Sunday night, but that's a pretty low bar. He had good velocity, touching 96/97, but still didn't seem to have the command he usually does. He wild-pitched Pina to second and walked Villar before getting out of the inning on a couple of popups.
The Cubs added their fourth and final run in the eighth. After Ben Zobrist walked, Russell was hit by a pitch and Damien Magnifico wild-pitched them both up a base.
Now think about that name for a moment. I mean, the Cubs once had Rock Shoulders in their system and he won a minor-league "Best Name" contest, but... "Damien Magnifico" might be the most "magnifico" name in major-league history. So thanks, Mr. Magnifico, for being... non-magnifico.
His pitching wasn't -- he threw only seven strikes in 14 pitches -- and after that wild pitch, Coghlan's sac fly made it 4-0.
The fourth run sat Aroldis Chapman down in the bullpen. He'd been loosening up in anticipation of a save opportunity. Joe Smith got up. Again I said to Mike, "This isn't the right thing, I don't think."
Turned out to be right. Smith walked the first hitter he faced, and Hernan Perez hit a sharp ground ball on which Kris Bryant made an outstanding stop (sorry, no video available, not even a link!) and got a force at second. If not for that, there would have been even more trouble, because Smith issued a second walk.
That brought Chapman into the game. He struck out Broxton and got Pina to hit a foul popup to Montero to end it.
So that's all good -- except for Smith, who's been pretty bad in all his outings. Cahill's rehab assignment is up and he's out of options, so the Cubs would have to put him through waivers to keep him, and he certainly wouldn't clear. Personally, I'd cut ties with Smith and keep Cahill. If the Cubs really insist on keeping Smith, they could option Carl Edwards Jr. back to Iowa for two weeks, upon which Edwards could return.
In any case, a decision will have to be made before tomorrow's game.
Finally, a big thank you to my friend Ken Keefer, who lives in the neighborhood around Wrigley and was gracious enough to let me use his computer to write this recap.