Last year’s championship contenders continued their rivalry in mid-May.
Game 1 – Each team uses 3 pitchers in the final inning to decide this close contest. Kris Bryant gets the Speakers on the board early with a 1st inning RBI ground out and a 3rd inning 2-run HR (his first of the season!). During both innings, Mookie Betts (3-4, 3-D, 3-R) scores.
The Plague score candlesticks in the 4th and 6th on ground ball RBIs by Francisco Lindor and Paul Goldschmidt. The Speakers answer in the 6th as Carlos Gonzalez legs out a lead off double. Bryant grounds to 2nd and Anthony Rizzo lifts a sac fly to center for a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the 8th, Betts doubles with 1 out to chase starter Tanner Roark. Lefty Kyle Ryan faces pinch hitter Yoenis Cespedes. Cespy singles home Betts. After Bryant lines out to 3rd, Rizzo doubles home Cespedes (turned back HR) to chase Ryan.
With a 6-2 lead, Carlos Martinez starts the 9th, but quickly finds himself pitching from the stretch. Lindor singles. Goldy grounds out. Max Kepler gets those 2 runs back with a 2-run home run.
Pinch hitter Alcides Escobar reaches 2nd on a Rizzo error. Jeremy Jeffress comes in and walks Alex Bregman, which puts the tying run on base. Billy Hamilton hits a fly ball to center (a turned back hit). Escobar tags and takes 3rd.
Enter Joe Blanton to face Carlos Santana representing the go-ahead run. Blanton gets Santana to chase strike 3 to end the game, 6-4.
W – C. Martinez (3-1); L – Roark; S – Blanton (2)
Game 2 – Aaron Sanchez is the star of the game, hurling a CG, 5-0 victory, and allowing just 4 singles.
The Plague score in the 2nd on Matt Wieters’ 2-out 2-run double. Jason Kipnis connects with a 2-run blast in the 3rd. Bregman triples home Wieters with the exclamation point in the 4th.
This marks Jake Arrieta’s first clunker of the year (11 H, 5 ER, HR). The shutout marks the 5th of the season (in 22 games) suffered by the Speakers, who never touch 3rd base.
W – A. Sanchez; L – Arrieta (4-1)
Game 3 – Another Speakers’ scoreless streak climbs to 18 innings as Marco Estrada pitches another 4-hit CG shutout. If you’re counting, that’s 6 times the Speakers have been blanked in 23 games.
Early RBI singles by Goldschmidt and Lindor are all that’s needed for The Plague to pocket a 2-0 win. Jeremy Hellickson scatters 8 hits and allows just 1 ER in the tough luck loss.
W – Estrada; L – Hellickson (3-3)
Game 4 – In a carbon copy of Game 3’s 1st inning, a Speaker error and Goldy RBI single give The Plague the early lead. Joe Ross battles to keep the margin to 1 run, (which would have been enough the past two days).
Manny Machado finally snaps the Speakers’ 21-innings without scoring, blasting a 4th inning 2-run HR, his first of the season. After Wieters ties it up with a sac fly in the bottom half, the Speakers rope 3 doubles to score another pair in the 5th.
Santana homers to start the bottom half. The 4-3 nail biter goes quickly in the late innings. Only the Speakers offer a 9th inning threat: 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Two pop ups leave the 1-run margin.
Blanton pitches a 1-2-3 9th to secure the 4-3 win and the series split.
W – Ross (1-1); L – Jose Fernandez; S – Blanton (3)