Heading into the All-Star Break, one of the biggest concerns for the Cubs was their lack of offensive production up and down the lineup. That concern was certainly put to rest at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, as the Cubs trounced the NL Wild Card leading Diamondbacks 16-4. On a night where Jon Lester recorded his 2,000th career strikeout, it was actually his at bat in the third inning that stole the show. Lester smashed a 2-2 pitch into the left center bleachers for his first career home run, sending the Wrigley faithful into a frenzy. Lester finished his night with nine strikeouts, but was unable to make it out of the fifth inning and was forced to settle for a no decision.
The Cubs got on the board right away in the bottom of the first inning. After Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant hit back-to-back singles and Willson Contreras walked to load the bases, Albert Almora Jr. lined a base hit into center field, plating Zobrist and Bryant to give the Cubs an early 2-0 lead. The Cubs got right back to work in the bottom of the second inning, as Ian Happ blasted a 3-2 fastball into the left center stands for his 14th homer of the year. Jon Lester followed with a single, Ben Zobrist reached on an error by third baseman Brandon Drury, and Kris Bryant drove in Lester on a sacrifice fly. Anthony Rizzo joined the party by crushing an opposite field two-run homer to left center to put the Cubs up 6-0 immediately afterward.
The DBacks answered with one run of their own in the top of the third inning, but Jon Lester more than made up for it in the bottom half of the inning by belting a two-run homer to the opposite field for the first of his career. To make things even sweeter for Lester, he struck out Jack Reinheimer (first MLB at bat) to end the top of the fourth inning for his 2,000th career strikeout. Lester is just the 25th lefty in MLB history to accomplish that feat. However, the DBacks began the fifth inning with a hit batter, a single, and a double down the left field line, which promptly ended Jon Lester’s night at 104 pitches. Arizona wound up scoring two in the fifth, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the night.
The Cubs put Arizona away for good in the bottom half of the sixth inning as they erupted for seven runs, highlighted by a two-run double from Willson Contreras and a towering three-run shot from Javier Baez. The final blow of the night came once again from the bat of Anthony Rizzo, who demolished a ball into the center field bleachers in the bottom of the seventh inning for the Cubs’ fifth homer of the night. The lone excitement from there came from the Diamondbacks’ utility man Daniel Descalso, who was called upon to pitch in the bottom half of the eighth inning.
The win pushes the Cubs to 57-48 on the year, which is the highest they have been above the .500 mark all year. The Brewers defeated the Cardinals tonight by a score of 3-2, so the Cubs maintain their 2.5 game lead in the NL Central. The Cubs are back at it again on Wednesday night against the Diamondbacks for a 7:05 P.M. start. It will be Jake Arrieta (10-7, 4.03 ERA) going for the Cubs against talented youngster Zack Godley (4-4, 3.06 ERA) for the Diamondbacks.