Cubs keep rolling with series victory over Nats
What started as an emotional series ended as a happy one for the Cubs.
With a 5-2 win over the Nationals Thursday, the Cubs claimed victory in the four-game set.
But it came at a price, as star rookie Justin Steele had to leave the game with right hamstring tightness after running the bases in the 6th inning. He had thrown 1.1 innings of shutout relief with 3 strikeouts prior to reaching on a fielder’s choice.
Before the game, the Cubs placed Jason Heyward on the 10-day IL with a left hamstring strain and already have outfielder Jake Marisnick on the IL with a hamstring injury of his own.
The Cubs also received good news on the injury front, however, as Anthony Rizzo returned to the lineup after back tightness earlier in the week. He singled twice and was hit by a pitch.
There were a slew of other encouraging signs for the Cubs in the victory:
—The Cubs are now 11-6 in May and 22-21 on the season with a +7 run differential.
—Trevor Williams turned in his longest start since April 27, limiting the Nationals to 2 runs over 4.2 innings. He gave up back-to-back homers in the 1st inning (including one to Kyle Schwarber) but settled in from there.
The Cubs actually felt like Williams executed pretty well in the 1st inning, even if the results didn’t match up.
“As a pitcher, you do everything you can, but as soon as it leaves your hand, it’s out of your control,” Williams said. “I thought we executed most of our pitches today and the 2 homers I thought were executed pitches given the wind blowing out and multiple things. Sometimes it’s just not gonna go your way regardless of if you execute a pitch or not.”
—P.J. Higgins helped his team to a win in his first career start as he caught Williams and four Cubs relievers on the afternoon.
—Ian Happ looks locked in at the plate recently after a slow start to the season and a two-week stretch on the shelf with a rib injury. He homered twice Thursday and now has 8 hits — including 4 homers — in his last 5 games.
“If I can keep putting them in the basket, I’ll be alright,” Happ said. “I got some good wind the last couple days and finally some balls in the air so it could leave the yard. That’s kind of the goal. I’ve been hitting too many balls on the ground. Once you start getting it in the air, you got a chance.”
—Joc Pederson collected 2 hits and now has 7 multi-hit games in his last 11 contests. Ross and Cubs trainers came out for a brief visit with him prior to his 9th inning at-bat, but he stayed in and lined out to right. After the game, Ross said it was just a cramp for the Cubs outfielder.
—The Cubs offense continued their grind-it-out ways, collecting 10 hits and forcing the Nationals to throw 142 pitches in the game.
—Nico Hoerner made another diving stop to back Andrew Chafin as the young second baseman continues to show off impressive defensive skills.