Just like the other day when the Chicago Cubs backed a hungry monster in the corner a la Houston Astros, last night the Astros woke up an angry beast in the Cubs. The North Side animals roared to a 9-5 victory over Houston. Chicago’s magic number is reduced to 5 games.
Jake Arrieta was solid and collected his 17th win of the season by keeping the Astros to three runs but it was the offence that was the star of the show. Yesterday I was talking about the Cubs playing more small ball. Last night, they flexed their muscles on base when Dexter Fowler walked and Bryant hit him home in the first inning. The Cubs never looked back.
“That was very big,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Our goal is to score first every game. That’s our goal: to score first and then win the inning. If you can just have that mentality of getting on the board first and then process-wise just win the inning, that’s a pretty good formula.”
Also, I want to talk about Addison Russell. There’s not too many sixth spot batters bashing 20 home runs in a season but last night, Russell did just that. It further cements the Cubs depth when young guys can do a great job like that. Russell is just the fourth Cubs Shortstop to reach that milestone.
“It’s pretty cool hitting 20 home runs and having 90 RBIs but the season’s not over,” Russell said in the locker room after the game. “We still have some work to do.”
It was a bit of a homecoming for Arrieta who grew up in Texas so the cheers were mixed.
“It’s nice to be here to see some friends and family I don’t get to spend a lot of time with throughout the year, so that was nice, but once the game starts, it’s just a stadium like anywhere else,” Arrieta said. “It’s all business after that point.”
The business seemed to fall apart after the sixth inning. Either that could be a testament to the surging Astros squad or the coasting effect a huge lead has on a team. In a way, the Astros remind me so much of the Cubs two years ago. Young and hungry for success. I’ll tell you something, the Astros are going to do some damage real soon. Jose Altuve? Awesome.
The Cubs are in St. Louis next and it’ll be exciting if they can clinch the division against the RedBirds on Wednesday but it won’t be easy. The Cubs haven’t won a series against the Cardinals this season. Kyle Hendricks takes to the mound and will look to shave a few digits off of his league leading ERA. It would be fitting if the Cubs can clinch in St. Louis.
Ah baseball, bring on October!