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Chicago Cubs Weekly Recap: Slow but Sure Improvements

It takes a lot of heart to root for a team that has not been meeting expectations, so if you made it another week, good job! Sadly, this last week of Cubs baseball didn't add much pleasure; luckily, the Cubs would sweep their cross-town rivals but would drop the series in Cincinnati and are now 6.5 games out of first place and only a half-game out of last. Now, there are some positives. Some offensive pieces seem to start hitting, and the bullpen looks a little better, but it doesn't seem everyone is firing off on all cylinders. The Cubs have to start winning games against their NL Central rivals, or an NL Central title may become too far out of reach.

6/4-6/5 vs. Chicago White Sox

Game 1: Win, 7-6

Game 2: Win, 7-6

What a whirlwind of a series this was. Coming into Wrigley, the White Sox were arguably the worst team in baseball, and most Cub fans (like me) thought this series would be a massive sweep; well, at least the Cubs got the sweep, but it took a lot of work to get there. Both games were very similar in scoring, and the Cubs were down 5-1 before they made their way back to winning both games. Game one featured two big flies by Christopher Morel and Patrick Wisdom in the bottom sixth to bring the game to 5-5, and then in the bottom of the eighth, Ian Happ delivered the game-winning hit, a two-run double in right field. Shota Imanaga only went 4.1 innings and was only credited with one earned run. The rest of the bullpen only gave up one earned run after Imanaga’s exit.

Game two started with the same dreadful feeling of being down 5-1 before the fifth inning; Jameson Taillon gave up a lot of soft contact hits (but hits all the same) and ended up exiting after five full innings, giving up five runs on 10 hits and striking out six. The other exciting stat about this game was that the Cubs only scored two runs on two hits; the other five came on walking in a run, a balk, a sac fly, or a fielder's choice. The comeback began in the fifth inning, where the Northsiders scored two runs, followed by a three-run seventh inning, which featured another clutch hit by Ian Happ, which brought home the game-winning run at the time.

Sadly, that wouldn't be enough as Hayden Wesneski would give up a home run in his second consecutive game, and the game would be tied 6-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth. After the past week of baseball, I didn't have much confidence that the Cubs would be able to walk it off; it just seemed the offense would die out. However, a tie-ball game at the bottom of the ninth would be no issue for the “Palatine Pounder,” as Mike Tuchman would walk it off for the Cubs on just two pitches!

6/6-6/9 @ Cincinnati

Game 1: Loss, 8-4

Game 2: Loss. 3-2

Game 3: Loss, 4-3

Game 4: Win, 4-2

Sadly, the Cubs would leave their winning ways in Chicago as they went 1-3 in Cincinnati. The pitching struggled in game one; Porter Hodge did get screwed over on a ball that should've been a strike which resulted in additional runs, but giving up eight runs is just a no-no. Runs came in the form of Suzuki and Morel home runs. Game two had a strong start from Justin Steele (7.0IP, 5H, 3ER, 1BB, 7K), but there wasn't much offense to support the Cubs ace, with only two runs on six hits. Game three had 10 total hits for the Cubs, but only three runs were plated (1-14 with RISP); Jordan Wicks made his first appearance back from his IL stint as he came out of the bullpen and threw 3.1 innings and only gave up one run. The Cubs would finally muscle out of the win and avoid the sweep by taking game four. Imanga would go 6.2 innings and strike out seven Reds. Runs would be brought to you by a Happ three-run double and a Tuachman RBI single.

Hitter of the Week: Dansby Swanson

This one was a bit tough because of Ian Happ's clutch hits. However, I would be an idiot if I didn't show much improvement Dansby Swasonson has made. Swanson’s average almost dipped below .200 before entering the White Sox’s series. Last week, Seasons would have a slash line of .391/.462/..696; the Cubs shortstop would also hit four doubles and a home run and record 3 RBIs. The Cubs need more consistency from the offense, and hopefully, “Lieutenant Dan” will be the spark within that.

Pitcher of the Week: Hector Neris

After receiving the nickname “Heartattack Hector,” the Cubs' unofficial closer has drastically improved. Nerris appeared in three games last week, receiving a win and two saves; Nerris also gave up zero runs and zero hits and struck out four in his week of work. On the year, Neris now has an ERA of 2.63, a BAA of .214, and a WAR of 0.8. The bullpen has also shown some inconsistency, and it's nice to see one of Jed Hoyer’s off-season moves work out for now. Probably my favorite highlight of the week is the pickoff move by Neris against the White-Sox.

Other Highlights

Series to come

6/11: Cubs vs. Rays (J. Tailon vs. Z. Eflin)

6/12: Cubs vs. Rays (J. Assad vs. A. Civale)

6/13: Cubs vs. Rays (J. Steele vs. T. Bradley)

6/14: Cardinals vs. Cubs (K. Gibson vs. B. Brown)

6/15: Cardinals vs. Cubs (A. Pallente vs. S. Imanga)

6/16: Cardinals vs. Cubs (M. Mikolas vs. J. Tailon)

Main Image: Getty Images


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