Bullpen comes through in clutch in Cubs’ 5-3 win against Mets

If Javy Baez was the consensus best actor in a leading role, then Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop were the runaway best supporting actors for their performances in the Cubs’ 5-3 victory Sunday against the Mets.

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Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Pedro Strop (46) reacts after a baseball game against the New York Mets, Sunday, June 23, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)

Cubs relief pitcher Pedro Strop (46) struck out two batters in the ninth to clinch his sixth save in his last nine tries

AP Photos/Matt Marton

Javy Báez stole the show in the Cubs’ 5-3 win over the Mets on Sunday at Wrigley Field.

His go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth rightfully will be what fans remember the most from the victory.

But if Báez was the consensus best actor in a leading role, then Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop were the runaway best supporting actors for their performances in relief of Cole Hamels.

The duo only allowed one runner on base in the final two innings and retired the final five batters to seal the victory. Strop struck out the Mets’ first two hitters with nine total pitches to open the ninth.

He used 10 pitches in a battle against Dominic Smith — who fouled off four pitches with two strikes — before Strop got Smith to line out to Jason Heyward in right field.

”Yeah, that was a tough one, Strop said. “He was having a good at-bat. He was fouling off good pitches. I just kept battling. Like I said before, [I didn’t] let anything distract me and just focused on executing instead of, oh, he’s fouling off everything. Just execute.”

Cishek was credited with his second win of the season after taking over on the mound for Hamels in the eighth when the Cubs were down 3-2.

It was the fourth time the Cubs pulled out a victory despite trailing entering the eighth this season.

Strop got his sixth save in his last nine tries and his fifth in June. He was more in control on the mound — 15 strikes out of 19 pitches — during his outing against the Mets after allowing two hits to open the ninth against the White Sox on Tuesday, including Eloy Jiménez’s go-ahead two-run homer in the Sox’ eventual 3-1 win.

”I feel really good,” Strop said. “I was able to execute my pitches better than the other day. I kind of felt like against the White Sox I was missing pitches. I was just focused on that — execute.”

The Cubs bullpen was a sore spot for the team this season. But it’s starting to turn things around.

Going into Sunday’s contest, the team’s relievers were ninth in ERA in MLB — allowing 109 earned and 117 total runs through 245.1 innings pitched.

The Cubs addressed their need for help in the bullpen by signing Craig Kimbrel. The relievers are biding time until he joins the roster.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before the game that Kimbrel is scheduled to make another appearance on the mound with Class AAA Iowa on Tuesday. Maddon will have a better idea of his progress afterward.

If the bullpen can sustain its recent level of success before Kimbrel rejoins the majors, then it’ll go from one of the team’s shakiest units to one of the strongest.

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