playoffs 2015: Jorge Soler powers Cubs past Cardinals in Game 2

ST. LOUIS — Jorge Soler had a pretty miserable September. He enjoyed watching his teammates rattle off win after win, of course, but he didn't contribute much. Soler spent half of the month on the disabled list with a strained oblique, then hit just .217 and started just six games after he returned. MORE: Best photos from NL Division Series games | Stephen Colbert picks Cubs to win World SeriesHe didn’t play in the wild-card game and walked in his only appearance in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cardinals.  Apparently he was saving up for a breakthrough game, because he was unstoppable in the Cubs’ oh-so-important Game 2 win, a 6-3 final, Saturday at Busch Stadium. "I think you're just seeing a more engaged player right now," manager Joe Maddon said. "That's the best way I can describe it."Maddon gave Soler the nod in right field ahead of Kyle Schwarber, despite that Schwarber was 4-for-6 in the first two playoff games. And despite that Soler’s past month was so very meh. Maddon didn’t like the idea of Schwarber, a rookie left-handed hitter, facing the crafty lefty Garcia. "When I saw my name in the lineup today, I was ready," Soler said, through Dave Martinez, who served as his interpreter.Maddon also put him in the No. 2 spot in the Cubs' lineup. Since May 3, Soler was Chicago's No. 2 hitter only once. But Maddon’s a pretty smart guy. In the first inning, Soler lashed a one-out double but was stran

ded at second when Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo struck out. In the second inning, after all the crazy happened — the Cubs scored three runs on two singles (one of the infield variety), two bunts, a walk and a force out — Soler capped the rally with a two-run homer over the wall in center field. The 407-foot blast gave the Cubs a 5-1 lead and silenced the crowd at Busch Stadium. "The coaching staff has done a wonderful job with him, especially Manny (Ramirez)," Maddon said. "I know Manny is in his ear all the time."The Cubs never trailed again."I've been talking to Manny Ramirez about how to stay in the zone, and he's helped me out a lot with that," Soler said, through Martinez. "And right now I'm just trying to get my at-bats and working good counts and trying to get ahead in counts."Because of Soler's contribution — he reach base his next two times at the plate, too (a pair of walks) — the Cubs head back to Chicago with the series tied at 1 and Cy Young candidate Jake Arrieta — a guy who had an amazing September — waiting to take the mound in Game 3.


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