The Cubs’ record improved to 57-37 and their lead in the N.L. Central was 7½ games.
The Cubs achieved one of Joe Maddon's favorite sayings Wednesday by defeating the Mets 6-2 -- taking two of three, which ain't bad according to the old Meat Loaf song "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad."
It's pretty good, actually, and if the Cubs can keep up this pace through the rest of the second half it will be a very good end to this season. The win also gave the Cubs four of six on the homestand, and five wins in their last seven games including the final game before the All-Star break.
Kyle Hendricks continued his impressive run of pitching, throwing 6⅓ scoreless innings, allowing seven hits, and striking out seven, which is really good for a guy who almost never breaks 90 on the ballpark pitch-speed meter. That's because he's been locating his sinker and offspeed pitches exceptionally well, and he especially enjoys pitching at Wrigley Field:
Best home ERA in Majors this season (min 50 IP)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 20, 2016
1.31 Clayton Kershaw
1.36 Kyle Hendricks
1.53 Jose Fernandez
1.61 Jake Arrieta
It also continued a fine run of pitching for Cubs starters since the All-Star break:
#Cubs starting pitchers since All-Star break (6 games)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 20, 2016
1.54 ERA, 41.0 IP, 28 Hits, 10 BB, 36 K, 2 HR, 0.927 WHIP
Hendricks got some defensive help, especially from Jason Heyward, who fired a laser beam to the plate to cut down James Loney trying to score on a Kelly Johnson single:
Here's how impressive that throw was:
Not only that, it was Heyward's hardest throw of the Statcast era. https://t.co/jew7iCiw1g— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) July 20, 2016
Meanwhile, the Cubs offense got going in the first inning. A single by Kris Bryant and two walks loaded the bases for Addison Russell, who doubled in two runs:
Anthony Rizzo made the game 3-0 Cubs with this ball crushed nearly all the way out of the yard in the third inning:
Rizzo hit another homer, a two-run shot, in the fifth, and Javier Baez completed the Cubs scoring with an RBI single in that inning, one of two hits he had. Bryant also had two hits and Russell had three in the Cubs' 11-hit attack.
Meanwhile, the only mistake made by the Cubs' bullpen in relief of Hendricks was a two-run homer hit by Wilmer Flores off Travis Wood after Carl Edwards Jr. had issued a one-out walk in the eighth. Hector Rondon -- didn't he get enough work Tuesday night? -- was summoned for the ninth, and finished it uneventfully on 10 pitches. I suppose with the off day Thursday it didn't hurt to give Rondon the extra work.
The Cubs wore throwback uniforms from, apparently, 1988, and the Mets chipped in with throwbacks of their own, from 1986. Why was this? Major League Baseball is beginning what they call an "annual tradition" of doing "Turn Back The Clock" on some random day. Paul Lukas of Uni-Watch has some thoughts on that:
Very odd situation today in MLB, as eight teams will apparently be wearing throwback uniforms. I say "apparently" because the information on this has come in dribs and drabs — an offhand comment by a broadcaster, a tweet by a beat writer, a small mention deep in the dot-dot-dot section of a team report. Oddly, there’s been no official announcement by MLB. Even odder, at least two of these throwback tilts are afternoon games, which means they won’t get much exposure. And even odder-er, why would you run a bunch of throwback games on a Wednesday when you could do a Throwback Thursday promotion?
That would make sense. This was just odd, and as Lukas says, there was no announcement by MLB until this article appeared on MLB.com Wednesday morning.
OK, I guess; but if you're making a big deal about this, why the big secret?
The Cubs played much better in this homestand than in the three weeks previous, appearing to right the ship, and if not for Tuesday's tough loss would have had a 5-1 homestand against two good teams. The starting pitching has again been excellent, and at least in Wednesday's win, the offense came through. Hopefully, they'll continue this against the Brewers over the weekend. Jason Hammel will face Jimmy Nelson in the series opener Friday evening.