Hammel leads Cubs to series win over Cardinals


by - Senior Writer -
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<span style=Photo by Joe Camporeale / USATODAY">
Photo by Joe Camporeale / USATODAY

The Chicago Cubs (11-3) defeated the St. Louis Cardinals (7-7) by a final score of 2-1 at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night, granting the Cubs the opportunity to sweep the Cardinals on the road tomorrow afternoon. Though the entire Chicago team will receive credit for the victory, starting pitcher Jason Hammel practically won the game by himself.

In video game fashion, Hammel dominated one of the best hitting teams on the mound and drove in both of the Cubs’ runs on Tuesday night. Pitching six innings of five-hit ball and giving up only one run, Hammel looked incredibly comfortable for the second consecutive start and, also like his previous start, earned a win to show for his efforts.

The game as a whole was a classic Cubs-Cardinals battle, highlighted by a relative lack of highlights. A night after the hoopla surrounding Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward’s first game against his former team, game two of the series marked a return to normality: two World Series candidates facing off in a matchup featuring dominant pitching. Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia was equally as spectacular as Hammel in his five innings on the hill, giving up a meager four hits and striking out an impressive seven batters.

However, Garcia’s coup de grace came at the hands of his pitching adversary, as Hammel drove in left fielder Jorge Soler and second baseman Ben Zobrist on a clutch single to left field in the top of the fourth. That marked the second straight game in which Hammel pitched that he reached base via a hit.

Hammel’s two-RBI single put the Cubs ahead 2-1, with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina having already driven in a run in the bottom of the second on a triple. The Cardinals nearly reciprocated Hammel’s run-scoring at-bat in the bottom half of the fourth, but left fielder Matt Holiday was thrown out at home plate by right fielder Heyward. Sporting perhaps the best arm of any outfielder in the majors, Heyward’s addition to the lineup is already paying substantial dividends for the Cubs both offensively and defensively. Even though he went 0-5 at the plate the night after being booed (among other disrespectful utterances) by St. Louis fans, Heyward vilified himself with his impressive outfield display.

Cubs starters have been pitching lights out to start the season, with each starter going at least six innings through the first 14 games, the first time that has happened since 1910. Hits were hard to come by for both squads on Tuesday, with the Cubs accruing five and the Cardinals accruing seven. Expect that to change on Wednesday, with youngsters Kyle Hendricks and Carlos Martinez on the rubber for the Cubs and Cardinals, respectively.

With that being said, the pitching duel was only appropriate, as former ace pitcher and Cubs legend Milt Pappas passed away on Tuesday. Hammel channeled his inner Pappas by willing the Cubs to victory. First pitch is at 12:45 CT on Wednesday, as the Cubs will be looking to pull of the sweep of their arch-nemesis.

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