Drew Smyly, who has pitched extremely well since the first of August, might have had his best outing of all on another gorgeous afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Smyly threw seven strong innings, allowing just one hit, a second-inning double by David Villar (no relation to Jonathan). He struck out eight, and left to a warm ovation after a throwing error allowed Joey Bart to reach base leading off the eighth.
A pair of two-run homers was enough for a 4-2 Cubs win over the Giants, even though the team had some of the same bullpen issues that plagued them Thursday — walks.
The first of the two-run homers off Carlos Rodón came in the second inning. Nico Hoerner led off with a single and Yan Gomes launched one into the bleachers [VIDEO].
Smyly kept mowing down Giants. After the two-out double in the second, Smyly retired 10 straight before hitting Austin Wynns to begin the sixth [VIDEO].
That’s really unfortunate. Wynns had to leave the game and I hope he’s all right. A walk put runners on first and second, but Smyly got out of it with a strikeout of Evan Longoria.
The Cubs put two more on the board in the sixth. Rodón left the game after striking out Zach McKinstry to lead off the inning. Yunior Marte replaced him and struck out Seiya Suzuki... or did he?
Well... maybe. There was another called K on Suzuki earlier in the game that... wow, this call was bad:
No, plate umpire Mark Wegner, pitch 8 was not a strike. We’ve got several rule changes coming for 2023 and I sure hope the automated strike zone (or at least a challenge system for balls and strikes) is coming soon.
Sorry for the tangent, back to the sixth inning.
Reyes followed that second Suzuki K with a walk, and then Hoerner sent this laser beam out of the yard [VIDEO].
Nico’s ninth had a pretty low launch angle:
As noted above, Smyly left the game after an error to the leadoff batter of the eighth. Manuel Rodriguez entered and though he did manage a couple of outs, he walked a pair and served up a two-run double to Longoria. The Cubs were lucky; Longoria’s ball bounced into the seats down the left field line, otherwise that would have been three runs on the play.
These are cogent points re: Rodriguez:
Manny is just not the same guy at 95-97 than 97-100. Needs every tick he can get.— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) September 9, 2022
Entered this game averaging 95.7 this year after 97.2 last year.— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) September 9, 2022
Matt Clapp is correct. Rodriguez is probably not yet 100 percent after missing a lot of this year with injuries. If he can get back to his 2021 level he can be a useful part of the 2023 bullpen.
Brandon Hughes bailed Rodriguez out with a K, and then stayed in to throw the ninth. He allowed a two-out single, but wrapped it up with this fly to center [VIDEO].
That was a satisfying win over a decimated Giants team — really, the only recognizable hitters in the lineup were Longoria and Mike Yastrzemski. Hope the Cubs can continue to defeat them the rest of the weekend.
I mentioned Zach McKinstry earlier and he did not start this game; he entered to replace Nick Madrigal and here’s why:
Madrigal left the game with right groin tightness, per the Cubs. https://t.co/rrXMbd98CA— Ryan Herrera (@ryan_a_herrera) September 9, 2022
Well, that doesn’t sound good. Madrigal missed two months with a left groin injury and this could derail what’s been a pretty good few weeks for him. Hope it’s nothing serious.
Drew Smyly is making a case for the 2023 rotation. Yes, I know he’s going to be 34 next year but... his pitching has just been outstanding. Maybe he can give the Cubs a full season like this in 2023. It’s worth considering, anyway.
The Cubs will go for two in a row over the Giants Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Marcus Stroman will start for the Cubs and Logan Webb will get the call for San Francisco. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.