By Charlie O. Mallonee
OAKLAND–The Chicago Cubs made it a three-game sweep over Oakland as they beat the Athletics 3-1 on Sunday. The Cubs supported the outstanding pitching of Kyle Hendricks with some timely hitting and the 104 mph pitches of Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning to nail down the win for Chicago.
The Cubs have now won seven consecutive games and 10 of their last 11 contests. Chicago is a season-high 28 games over .500 with a record of 69-41 which is best in the majors. This was their 10th series sweep of the season.
The A’s have now lost three in a row and eight of their last nine games. Oakland is now 15 games under .500 with a record of 48-63. This was the ninth time the A’s were swept this season.
On the Bump
Kyle Hendricks (11-7) has quietly been one of the most solid pitchers for the Cubs this season. He did not overpower hitters as his fastball topped out at 89 mph on a consistent basis. It was the sinking action of his fastball that caused Oakland hitters to groundout and the change up that kept the hitters off balance that Hendricks used to defeat the A’s.
Hendricks worked 7.1 innings giving up just one run (earned) on three hits. He struck out four batters and walked none. Hendricks entire outing was about control.
Pedro Strop worked 0.2 innings of relief for Hendricks.
Aroldis Chapman worked the ninth inning thrilling the crowd with pitches that hit 104 mph on the radar gun. Chapman did give up a single to the A’s Stephen Vogt, so he is human.
“He pitched great. A couple of swings ended up being two runs for them. Pitching deep into the game for us again. Getting the swings and misses. Using all three pitches. It’s a pretty good line up that other than two pitches he did a great job against,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin evaluating the pitching performance of Sean Manaea on Sunday.
Manaea (3-7) worked 6.0 innings giving up two runs (both earned) on six hits. He struck out four and walked two batters. Both runs came via the home run. Kris Bryant hit his 27th home run of the season off Manaea to lead off the top of the sixth inning and Jorge Soler hit his seventh homer of the year to lead off the seventh inning.
The A’s used five relief pitchers in the game. Reliever Liam Hendriks came in with the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the eight and worked out of that jam without allowing a run. Manager Bob Melvin praised Hendriks for his effort after the game.
Chris Smith who was just added to the A’s roster closed out the game for Oakland working a scoreless top of the ninth inning.
In the Batter’s Box
Marcus Semien was the bright spot for the A’s at the plate against the Cubs. Semien went 2-for-3 on the day. That included him crushing his 23rd home run of the season into the left center field seats which accounted for the only A’s run of the day.
Stephen Vogt and Max Muncy were the only other A’s to pick up hits in the game.
The A’s left three men on base.
Kris Bryant went 2-for-3, scored a run, hit a home run and walked twice in the game. The home run was his 27th of the year which is a new career-high.
Jorge Soler enjoyed being the Designated Hitter as he went 2-for-4. He hit his seventh home run of the season off Manaea.
Anthony Rizzo had a 1-for-4 day that included an rbi. He has now reached base safely in 14 consecutive starts.
The Cubs left eight men on base and went 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Yonder Alonso executed the rare unassisted double play in the top of the third inning. With the bases loaded, the Cubs Ben Zobrist hit a low line drive down the first base line that Alonso snagged with his glove hand. He then stepped on the first base bag to double up the runner – Anthony Rizzo – to end the inning and the Cubs scoring threat.
A rare call by first base umpire Paul Emmel preserved a good defensive play by the A’s. In the top the fourth inning, Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras struck out but the pitch was in the dirt so the batter was able to run to first. Catcher Stephen Vogt fielded the ball and made the throw to first. Contreras ran out of the runners lane to distract Yonder Alonso who was waiting to catch the ball. Alonso dropped the ball but Emmel called Contreras out for leaving the lane and interfering with the play. It is a call that should be made more often.
Sonny Gray has been placed on the 15-day disabled list for the second time this season. Gray was lifted from the game on Saturday when he strained his right forearm in the fifth inning. Gray was on the DL from May 21 to June 4 with a strained right trapezius.
Right-hand pitcher Chris Smith has been promoted from Triple-A Nashville to take Gray’s spot on the roster. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Smith, catcher Josh Phegley has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list.
This is the 25th time the A’s have placed a player on the DL this season. That ties a club all-time record.
The Athletics will stay in Oakland for a four-game series with the Eastern Division leading Baltimore Orioles:
Mon 8/8 RHP Kendall Graveman (7-7,4.46) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (3-8,4.08) 7:05 PM
Tue 8/9 RHP RHP Zach Neal (1-1,5.25) vs. LHP Wade Miley (0-1,7.20) 7:05 PM
Wed 8/10 TBA (probably a call up from Nashville) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (4-3,5.47) 7:05
Thu 8/11 TBA (possibly another Nashville call up) vs. RHP Chris Tillman (14-4,3.50) 7:05
The Cubs have the day off on Monday and start a two-game series with the Angles in Chicago on Tuesday.