Cubs Pick Up Home-Split with Rebuilding White Sox

The Cubs were looking to keep the momentum off of a rampant start to the 2nd half of the season against the rebuilding team just down the Red Line from Wrigley.

After an intense weekend at Wrigley against the hated Cardinals that saw the Cubs take 2 of 3 from the division foe, the team set its sights on winning their first BP Crosstown Cup since 2013 (albeit the last two years ended in a tie) in the longest current trophy drought for the club.

Game 1 (Monday, July 24th): White Sox 3, Cubs 1

With no days off following the heated series against the Cardinals, one could have foreseen the letdown coming for the home team. On a balmy Monday afternoon Miguel Gonzalez threw one of the best games of the season for the White Sox rotation keeping the Cub hitters off balance all day resulting in a 3–1 win for returning Cub manager Ricky Renteria in game one of the Crosstown Classic.

The Cubs actually were the first to score in this contest on a Kyle Hendricks fielders choice in the 2nd to bring home Ben Zobrist. Hendricks, who was returning for his first start since June 4th, gave up only one run in 4.1 innings. Hendricks showed his textbook command allowing no free passes and striking out 5 on the day. Not all was great for Hendricks though as his velocity was hovering around 84–85 mph, which is even slow for him. He also forced himself to work around 8 hits in his short outing as his control was a bit off catching too much of the plate at times.

The Sox tied the game in the 5th when Jose Abreu (2–4, RBI) drove in a run with a double to right. After that it was a pair of solo shots in consecutive innings that put the South Siders up for good. Adam Engle and Matt Davidson each went deep for the visitors to give the Sox the 3–1 edge after 6.

After that point, the Sox survived thanks to a clutch bullpen for a change and Cubs inability to hit in the clutch that took it home. The Cubs on the day were 0–10 with RISP and left 12 men on base in total. It was ust one of those days where the big hit never came. Jennings and Swarzak combined to go the last 1.2 innings for Renteria and the Sox as the underdogs pulled out a shocker in the opener.

Game 2 (Tuesday, July 25th): Cubs 7, White Sox 2

The final game at Wrigley between the pair was a strange one, but one that enabled the Cubs to split the home series and move to 9–2 in the 2nd half. From first to last pitch, there was drama throughout Tuesday’s contest. With Carlos Rodon trying to get back into form and John Lackey possibly pitching for his rotation spot, this had intrigue from the get-go.

The Cubs struck early on in the game thanks to a three-run shot from red-hot Wilson Contreras. The star catcher has the 2nd most homeruns in baseball since the all-star break (5).

The Sox were able to pull it back to 1 after Carlos Rodon picked up his first career hit with a rocket double that scored 2 with 2 out in the 3rd. After that incident, Lackey settled down going 5+ innings surrendering only those two runs on 5 Ks.

Rodon was not as fortunate, giving up an RBI double to Zobrist in the 4th finishing the day with 4 IP, 4 ER, but 11Ks. He will need to have better fastball command and more consistency to take his stuff to the next level.

There was controversy in the middle innings when in the 4th Kris Bryant got ejected for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate ump after he rung him up on a pitch 4 inches inside according to K Zone. It was Bryant’s first career ejection allowing his frustrations get the better of him on an objectively horrible call.

Then in the next frame, Lackey plunked three Sox hitters to load the bases, with Jose Abreu seeming especially annoyed after his side was thumped with a Lackey fastball. The White Sox appeared to retaliate in the bottom half of the 5th by throwing inside on rookie Ian Happ before hitting him on the second attempt. The Cubs appeared to take their medicine and accept responsibility as nothing further happened in this one to spark further tensions.

Back to the action, Contreras struck again in the 6th driving in Jon Jay to make the score 5–2 completing his 3–5 day with 4 RBI’s. Other notable performances include Ben Zobrist going 3–4 with a walk and RBI to boot. Albert Almora Jr. also picked up a hit and a pair of RBI’s down the stretch to put the score out of reach for the power-deficient Sox.

The series now shifts to the South Side to finish up this 4-game set with Jake Arrieta facing James Shields Wednesday night before Jon Lester takes on Mike Pelfrey in the finale.

Jason Schwartz is the Editor-in-Chief of BulletinBoard, a Chicago Bulls blog. Only his love for the Cubs would dare him to write elsewhere. You can find him on Twitter here.