The San Diego Padres hit the road to start their road series in Chicago yesterday. Then a bunch of rain happened, so that game was pushed to Wednesday. But Mother Nature's brother, Brother Nature, wanted to watch some baseball today, and so it was. Cesar Vargas would get his next scheduled start paired against Jon Lester and the winning-est team in baseball.
Sadly, the winning didn't stop for the Cubs tonight.
Vargas, who has had some phenomenal starts backed by minimal offense, had a poor start backed by pretty great offense. That's not to say the Cubs' pitching was looking all that shiny, but a brutal third inning would end up sinking the Friar rookie faster than the pouring rain of the past day.
Cesar was able to scrape through 4 challenging innings, but gave up 10 hits and 6 earned runs along the way. It's hard to compare this to his other starts, which have been nothing but elite, so this one feels like maybe Vargy got his first taste of a team like the Cubs. Still, the Pads stayed in it, never letting go of the possibility of a home crowd upset.
The bats were effecient tonight, racking up 7 runs in 8 hits. Scoring started as late as the 4th inning, when Melvin Upton Jr. smoked a solo HR off of Lester, raising the Pads out of shutout status.
Then, the next inning saw Alexei Ramirez and Jon Jay both pop off RBI-doubles, cutting a 6 run Cubs lead right in half. Like a bad joke, the success of Ramirez resulted in an injury, and Alexei slowly walked off the field after clutching a cramping hamstring.
Luckily, Ramirez reported that (similar to Andrew Cashner's exit) it was nothing but a cramp, and we should expect to see him for the next start. Hopefully with some more potassium in his system and ready to hit a few more RBI doubles. Whew.
Adam Rosales filled in at shortstop, and in a bit of a goofy demeanor, made a pair of great plays:
Though, regardless of the solid D and rallying offense for the Padres, the Cubs weren't showing any signs of stopping. They piled on a few more runs, and things were looking pretty dark going into the 8th and 9th innings. That's when, in a final glimmer of hope, Alex Dickerson did that thing when you're down in the count 0-2 with 2 outs and you have the bases loaded. No, not strike out. He lifted the dang ball straight into right field for a grand slam.
That's where the happiness ends, since the Padres couldn't tally any more runs after that and picked up the L, but hey, grand slams are awesome and a 7-8 loss isn't very shameful against the best team in baseball right now.
Tomorrow's the big double-header, with one game starting at 10 AM and the other at 5 PM. That's two swings at the top dogs, with Colin Rea and Drew Pomeranz each getting a shot to deliver some payback.
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