Cubs Bury the Pirates, Finish August with 22 Wins & Huge Lead in NL Central (VIDEO)

The Chicago Cubs (85-47) finished August the same way they started it, with a win and a sweep. Kris Bryant opened the scoring for the Cubs with his 36th home run of the year in the bottom of the first inning, a solo shot that made it 1-0. Bryant scored the second Cubs’ run in the bottom of the fourth inning when he singled and was driven in by an Addison Russell hit.

The Cubs would give up a run to the Pirates (67-64) in the top of the fifth inning and that cut the lead in half at 2-1. In the bottom of the sixth inning the Cubs would break it open, scoring three runs and driving Pirates’ pitcher Ryan Vogelsong from the game.

Antonio Bastardo came on in relief and immediately uncorked a wild pitch and then he was called for a balk, driving in Jason Heyward who singled and drove in Jorge Soler earlier in the inning. The Cubs were up 4-1 with Addison Russell, who had walked earlier in the inning, on third base.

Willson Contreras reached down and laced a double over the head of left fielder Starling Marte. That scored Addison Russell and the Cubs were cruising, up 5-1.

Jason Hammel looked much better tonight than he had in his last two outings. He threw 104 pitches over six innings allowing only one run and three hits. The Cubs bullpen, on the other hand, was not very effective. On a night the Cubs were in complete control, the bullpen nearly let this one slip away. They allowed the Pirates to score four runs in the last three innings and, if not for Addison Russell’s amazing diving grab in the seventh inning with the bases loaded, this could’ve been a different outcome.

Aroldis Chapman came on in the ninth inning and, after getting the first two batters out in quick order, struggled mightily with his control. He gave up two singles, a walk and threw three wild pitches in route to a 31 pitch ninth inning. He ended up striking out Jordy Mercer but not before he had allowed the winning run to get on base. It was a much closer game than it should’ve been but the Cubs hang on to win 6-5 (Box Score).

Stats that mattered

  • Jason Hammel rebounded nicely – 6.0IP, 1R, 3H, 3BB, 3K
  • The bullpen had a tough night – 3.0IP, 4R, 6H, 5BB, 6Ks
  • Kris Bryant is taking over as the leader of this team – 2-for-4, 2R, 1RBI, 1BB, HR (36)
  • Jason Heyward, after taking off four days, is swinging the bat better than he has all season – 2-for-3, 1R, 1RBI, 1BB
  • Addison Russell may be the most fun player to watch right now in the game – 1-for-2, 1R, 2RBI, 1BB

Bottom line

That was a 22 win month. The Cubs finished August 22-6 and that translates to a .786 win percentage. Does anyone remember July?

Next up

The Cubs stay home to start off September against the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night at 7:05 PM CT. Mike Montgomery (4-5, 2.60 ERA) will make his third start for the Cubs this season.

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