By Cat Garcia
Those of the folk on the north side who were holding their breath for a moment as the Cubs struggled through a small rough patch, you can now safely exhale.
Since the devastating walk-off loss in the ninth inning on a Randal Grichuk home run last Monday in St. Louis, the Cubs have been back to their old familiar ways of April.
The Cubs won the series in St. Louis, making this the second series of the season the Cubs have taken from the rival Cardinals. After Lackey’s gem on Monday evening, Jason Hammel took the mound on Tuesday at Busch Stadium in a game where Michael Wacha batted the Cubs order around in the first inning giving Hammel the opportunity to score for the Cubs before he threw a pitch. Hammel delivered, hitting a sharp double and scoring Addison Russell and David Ross. After some hard contact and a few singles to score runners all evening, the Cubs emerged victorious with a final score of 12-3.
Wednesday afternoon’s contest saw the more human side of Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, who allowed seven hits and four runs to score during his outing. A contest that looked promising after a 6-1 start quickly became a close call game when Arrieta allowed a home run, again, to Randal Grichuk and a double to Matt Adams that scored a run, making the game 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth. Arrieta was pulled after just five innings of work, and the Cubs bullpen made the game an even closer call, but not before the Cubs bats stepped up to add a few extra insurance runs making the final score of the second game 9-8 Cubs.
The Cubs returned to Wrigley Field this weekend for a three-game series with the Phillies which they swept. Kyle Hendricks threw an almost-complete game shutout on Saturday afternoon, needing just 104 pitches to make it all the way to the final out. After another win last night, the Cubs will now continue their four-game series at home with the Dodgers before hosting the Diamondbacks this weekend. The Cubs will not face Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in this week’s series, Kershaw having pitched Sunday against the Mets at Citi Field.
On the south side, unfortunately the White Sox have not been able to work through their troubles so easily. After dropping the final two games of a three-game set with the Indians last week, the White Sox continued a tough stretch of games with the Royals in Kansas City. The originally scheduled four-game set was reduced to three games due to a rainout on Thursday.
The White Sox faced not just a sweep by the Royals in the series, but brutal come from behind losses, underscoring the fact that though this White Sox club is much improved, they still may not be a solid enough match for the strongly built teams of the AL Central. The three-game series loss put Kansas City on top in the AL Central, and the White Sox now find themselves in third place behind the Indians.
During the first two games in Kansas City, things looked to be going well as the White Sox had secured large leads early on, but then saw them slowly diminished by poor bullpen performance matched with the strong and timely bats of the Royals.
Miguel Gonzalez pitched a strong six innings with five strikeouts on Friday, a start in which he looked to be on track to receive the W for. He left the game with a 5-2 lead after a Melky Cabrera grand slam, but the White Sox quickly lost the lead when relievers Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, and Nate Jones surrendered a combined total of four runs. Kansas City won 7-5.
Saturday’s game suffered the same fate when the White Sox led 7-1 early on after starter Carlos Rodon only allowed one run in five innings. However, closer David Robertson surrendered six earned runs to tie the game before he got out of the ninth inning. The ball was then given to newcomer Tommy Kahnle who gave up one more run securing the loss for the White Sox, making the final score 8-7 Kansas City.
The White Sox were also not able to pull out a win on Sunday with Chris Sale on the mound, who pitched a strong seven innings with just two earned runs to close out the series. Reliever Nate Jones allowed three earned runs while only recording one out to make the final score 5-4 Kansas City.
After a 1-0 loss to the New York Mets on Monday afternoon, the White Sox will look to put it back together in two more games with the Mets before taking Thursday off and heading to Detroit for a three-game set with the Tigers.