Jake Arrieta threw another gem and tripled, Kris Bryant drove in a run and the Chicago Cubs finished a remarkable four-game sweep of reigning world champ San Francisco, winning 2-0. Lowering his already team-best ERA to 2.38, Arrieta allowed four hits and two walks, fanning five while driving an opposite field triple in the second inning.
According to Elias, the Chicago Cubs swept the Giants for the first time in four consecutive games since 1977, when most of today's lineup was either in diapers or not even born. San Francisco managed only seven hits, being outscored for the weekend 22-14. Starlin Castro, mired in an unimaginable hitting and defensive slump, sat out while Addison Russell turned in a remarkable weekend. Chris Coghlan played second base and was relatively unproductive hitting wise, although his defensive effort over the weekend gave the Cubs enough spark to win.
Hector Rondon threw 36 pitches in the Giants 9th, allowing two hits and plunking Ehire Adrianza to load the bases. He then struck out three consecutive batters to earn his 19th save this season for the Cubs, sending the Wrigley crowd of 39,939 into a frenzy - and sending San Francisco off to Houston to face another tough assignment in containing the division leading Astros. Justin Grimm was credited with the hold, allowing 1 hit in.1 innings pitched.
Behind an incredible weekend by Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Bryant and solid starts all four days by Lester, Hendricks, Arrieta and Hammel, Chicago has opened a 3.5 game lead over San Francisco and 5.0 game lead over Washington in the race for second wild card berth. With Pittsburgh heading to Busch Stadium to take on the MLB-best Cardinals and Milwaukee coming to Chicago Tuesday, the Cubs could pull even with Pittsburgh in the National League Central with a chance to take the first wildcard spot - which would give the Cubs home-field advantage.
Arrieta's victory was his 13th of 2015 with only six losses, his career best. Nearly all pitching stats for #JakeCanRake rank top six in the National League, clearly signaling his turnaround at age 29 is finally complete. Manager Joe Maddon insists there's more to Arrieta, meaning we could see a Cy Young candidate this year, and quite possibly next.
The new kids (Schwarber, Bryant, Russell and Soler) combined to hit 20-for-53 (.377 average) over the four game span, and were responsible for 16 of 22 runs Cubs produced. They'll enjoy a much deserved day off before heading into Wrigley on Tuesday when Taylor Jungmann takes on Dan Haren at 8:05 pm.
(Photo by Jon Durr / Getty Images Sport)