The Cubs game was delayed slightly due to weather, but thankfully the weather cooperated to allow Kyle Hendricks to make his fourth start off the IL. The Professor was very good, but unfortunately it was not good enough as the Cubs offense disappeared after the first inning. So maybe it would have been better if it hadn’t cleared up today.
He pitched a quick 1-2-3 inning inducing three straight groundball outs to start the game. Young Cuban southpaw Adrian Morejon made his big league debut as an opener. Kyle Schwarber hit a foul out for his first third of an inning as a big leaguer. It wouldn’t be that easy as Javier Baez ripped a single back up the middle with one out and then with anti-Russell baserunning advanced to third on Kris Bryant‘s flare double. Anthony Rizzo hit a groundball to his counterpart to drive in Báez. Robel Garcia hit a ball hard but right at Hunter Renfroe to end the inning.
The Professor induced another groundball out to start the the second, and then punched out Renfroe on a generous third strike call. Francisco Mejia drew a walk for the Padres first baserunner of the afternoon, but Wil Myers grounded out to end the top of the second. Morejon settled in to retire the bottom of the Cubs order quickly.
Hendricks went back to work against the bottom of the Padres order in the third inning, and Hendricks was locked in for yet another clean inning. Morejon took the at bat in the third inning to be able to face Kyle Schwarber to start the bottom of the third. Schwarber’s base hit meant the end of Morejon’s outing. Cal Quantrill took over as expected to face Báez and got a swinging punchout. Bryant grounded out and for the first time all weekend there hadn’t been a homer.
The Padres first hit was an infield single from Eric Hosmer with two outs in the fourth. Hunter Renfroe put Hendricks in danger for the first time by following that up with a double. Mejia hit an easy pop fly caught in foul territory by Bryant to end the threat. Anthony Rizzo hit a single to start the bottom half of the inning. Quantrill faced the minimum when Jason Heyward hit a sharp lineout to second that turned into a double play (I don’t recall ever see so many different and creative ways to hit into a double play over this week) to end the inning.
The Professor ran into a little more trouble of his own creation by walking Luis Urias with one out. Cal Quantrill sacrificed Urias into scoring position, and Fernando Tatis Jr. ripped a base hit down the right field line to drive in Urias. Hendricks kept the game tied with Manuel Margot hitting a sharp groundball that Javy fielded and absolutely gunned down at first. Quantrill managed to retire the three hitters he faced. A two out single by Hendricks was the only blip in the fifth as Quantrill continued to roll.
The pitcher’s duel was still going strong with the wind blowing in. Hendricks cruised through the sixth with another clean frame, but unfortunately Quantrill was again able to match him. Francisco Mejia hit a line shot through the wind and into the basket to lead off the seventh. Hendricks retired the next three batters to end the seventh now down a run. Robel Garcia hit a ball deep into deep center field that was held up short of the warning track. That was the only noise the Cubs made in another 1-2-3 inning for Quantrill.
Brad Brach was given the eighth inning. Brach walked Tatis to start the frame, but struck out Margot. Manny Machado then hit into an inning ending double play to keep the Cubs down just one run. The victory carrot was inserted into the game to try to break up Quantrill’s run. Victor Caratini managed to make an out in Martin Maldonado‘s place. It was a great defensive play aided by a catcher runner downing the line. Daniel Descalso hitting for Brad Brach for performative reasons at this point had an easy fly out, and then Schwarber hit another easy flyball to Margot to end the eighth.
The Cubs bullpen in the ninth inning beat itself. Kyle Ryan issued a one out walk to Hunter Renfroe and Francisco Mejia laid down a perfect bunt for a base hit. Wil Myers was out on a nice play in foul territory by Anthony Rizzo. Joe Maddon elected to go to Carl Edwards Jr. for the first time since coming off the IL. Edwards threw six straight balls to load the bases. He worked the count to 3-2 before spiking a curve on to the top of Greg Garcia‘s foot to drive in the Padres third run. Fernando Tatis pulled another single down the right field line to score a pair of runs. Edwards got a pop out from Margot to end the inning and largely the game at that point. The heart of the Cubs order went as quietly against Padres closer Kirby Yates as they had against Quantrill. Rizzo singled, who also had the Cubs lone hit against Quantrill, but Garcia struck out to end the Cubs homestand.
It was a frustrating game to watch. Kyle Hendricks was magnificent and the Cubs had a chance to jump all over a pitcher making his big league debut. Instead the Cubs managed just a single run and the bullpen coughed up some runs late to make the game appear less competitive than it was on the afternoon. Still I can’t muster much anger over a clunker at the end of a terrific homestand. It may have ended with a whimper, but I find myself mostly muttering this afterwards.