The Cubs came into tonight's game off a come-from-behind victory that was aided by a crucial error by a first baseman and aggressive base running. Likewise, tonight's game was heavily influenced by the same factors. They were hoping to see the Kyle Hendricks that we all came to know and love from 2014-17, but who has struggled thus far in 2018. We got to see an excellent performance by Hendricks, but he was unfortunately let down by his offense and defense in this one.
The Cubs started off by grinding out at bats. By my count, four of the first six batters worked 3-2 counts against Giants starter, Andrew Suárez, and did so five total times in the first two innings. Unfortunately, they were also susceptible to ground balls, and Suárez was able to work around walks to Javier Báez (!) and Willson Contreras in the first two innings.
The Cubs did put a run on the board in the third inning. Ian Happ led off with a double to right-center field. Kyle Hendricks was unable to move Happ along to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Albert Almora Jr. ripped a line drive single to left field. Happ initially retreated toward second base on the hit, and was not able to score. He would come home one batter later, when Addison Russell grounded into a fielder's choice. 1-0 Cubs.
While the Cubs jacked up the pitch count against Suárez early on, they became significantly more impatient as the game rolled along. And it felt like most of those at bats saw the ball rolling straight to shortstop, where Brandon Crawford gobbled them up. Between Suárez, Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, and Will Smith, the Cubs only collected four base hits, and reached base on four bases on balls.
For his part, Kyle Hendricks was outstanding. He too, induced weak contact, and had some swing-and-miss action with his change up for the first time in a long time. The only blemish on his evening came in the bottom of the fifth. Pablo Sandoval led off with a chopper that bounced over the outstretched glove of Hendricks, but fielded by Javier Báez charging from second. Javy made a quick throw to first, but Anthony Rizzo was not able to react - or perhaps his fiancée put a curse on his mitt - and could not make the catch. Alen Hanson was up next, and grounded the ball to Russell at shortstop, but the Cubs were only able to get the force at second, as the speedy Hanson was too quick. In the interim, the Cubs staff was not able to sacrifice a live chicken in time to remove the curse from Rizzo's glove before a crucial moment of the game. With Hanson on first, Hendricks attempted a pick-off. Rizzo was, again, unable to react to the ball and it bounced away into foul territory down the right field line. In part because there is a ton of foul territory, but also because Báez took some time to get the ball in, Hanson was able to run around all of the bases to score on the error. The game was tied 1-1.
As the game continued, Hendricks got stronger. After the error, Hendricks went on to retire 10 straight Giants into the eighth inning. Hendricks made it through the eighth while just surpassing the 100-pitch mark. Unfortunately, the Cubs were not able to score to put him in line for the win. Joe Maddon allowed Hendricks to start the 9th inning, and he got Andrew McCutchen to pop up to Contreras. However, when he walked Brandon Belt, Maddon came out to get him in favor of Randy Rosario. On the night, Hendricks went 8 1/3 innings, allowing just one unearned run while allowing five hits and one base on balls. Len Kasper called it correctly in the eighth inning when he said we were seeing "vintage Hendricks" in this one.
(I worked hard for all of 3 minutes on this MS Paint job, so I'm leaving it in)
No Rest for the Weary
This being a stressful week for me , wouldn't you know that this one would go to extras in game 1 of the West Coast swing. Rosario was able to make it through the bottom of the ninth unscathed. In the tenth inning Jason Heyward walked with one out. Almora *just* missed a home run down the left field line, but it went foul. He ended up striking out in the at bat. Addison Russell was robbed of a potential single by Crawford, when the shortstop made a nice stop on a grounder up the middle, and threw to beat Russell on the play.
Things got pretty anxious in the bottom of the tenth. After retiring the lead-off batter, Rosario was removed in favor of Steve Cishek, who was appearing in his 143rd game of the season. Hunter Pence wasted no time in driving the ball just past the glove of Almora in center field, and ended up with a triple. Cishek buckled down and struck out both Chase d'Arnaud and Steven Duggar to escape the jam.
The Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the top of the 11th. As we saw in Sunday's game against the Reds, you can't continue to give the home team chances to win in extras forever.
Cishek started the bottom of the 11th, and got Buster Posey to pop up in the infield for out number one. He was followed, however, by back-to-back singles by McCutchen and Brandon Belt. This put runners on first and third with just one out. Maddon brought Pedro Strop in, as well as a fifth infielder to try to prevent a game-winning run. Brandon Crawford was intentionally walked to load the bases for the Kung Fu Panda, and he promptly slapped the ball into left field for a game winning, walk-off single. Ouch.
The Cubs lost out on a chance to gain on Milwaukee, who lost to Florida, so this one hurts a little extra. Add to the beautiful, wasted effort by Hendricks this one is gonna sting for a bit. Thankfully, this team is more resilient than the average fan base, and tomorrow brings another opportunity. It will be a tough one, though, as José Quintana will start for the Cubs against Johnny Cueto. First pitch is at 9:15.
Author's Note: This is my last recap until August, as the powers that be have granted me a little bit of off-time. It's a busy/stressful month as we're preparing for a move and I'm studying to take a test to add an endorsement to my teaching license. I *should* be back in August, and the Cubs *will* be in first place when I return.
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