ST. LOUIS — Jason Hammel took the mound for the eighth inning Tuesday within range of the third complete game, and the second shutout, of his career. Either achievement would’ve been a first in Hammel’s 57 starts as a Cub.
Hammel didn’t get there, recording only one out in the eighth before departing. He allowed one run and four hits on 103 pitches in the Cubs’ 12-3 victory.
“I really thought he was capable of pitching the entire game and getting a shutout,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He was really good.”
Spotted with a six-run lead after the top of the first inning — which included a two-run Hammel double — the pitcher was able to go into attack mode and stay there all night.
“It’s nice to have room for error,” he said.
Hammel categorized his performance as “not that good” and said poor two-strike execution cost him a chance at going the distance.
Still, he’s 6-1 with a 2.17 ERA. The Cubs would take that sort of production all season in a heartbeat if they could.
“I believe it’s sustainable,” Maddon said. “Absolutely.”
With one out in the ninth inning of what was an 8-1 game, Addison Russell grounded out to Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong.
Until, that is, Maddon challenged the ruling of an out at first. After seeing Russell dig as hard for the bag as he would in Game 7 of a World Series, Maddon was pleased to see Russell rewarded with a reversal and a base hit.
“That validates why you run to first base,” said Maddon.
Maddon — who said minor league players need to see plays like that — called Russell’s hustle the biggest takeaway from a night when the Cubs did a great many good things.
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