Stop me if you’ve heard this one. The Cubs starter provided a quality start. The offense had enough power to get a lead and the bullpen did enough to make the lead stand up. The formula continues to be a winning one. The Cubs are now 9-2 which is a starting record they haven’t equaled since 2016. The defense has looked spectacular for most of the season and that is something that has been lacking in the disappointing 2017-2019 seasons. The other 2016 similarity is a lineup that finds different heroes every game. Tonight it was Jason Heyward, Jason Kipnis, and Willson Contreras providing the Cubs offense.
Kyle Hendricks and Jeremy Jeffress were very good. Craig Kimbrel was not but it didn’t cost the Cubs once again with a teammate picking up the struggling closer. Tonight it was Kyle Ryan doing enough to keep the tying run from crossing the plate.
Hendricks began the game and finished his outing with perfect frames. The Professor only managed the feat in the first inning, but his last two innings retiring the Royals in order. The Royals took the lead in the second inning. Salvador Perez ripped a double to start the frame. Ryan McBroom singled to send Perez to third and Adalberto blooped a single into shallow left to score Perez. The Professor retired Alex Gordon, Maikel Franco, and Bubba Starling to end the threat with just one run in.
Willson Contreras led off the second with a single and scored on Jason Heyward’s line drive blast to put the Cubs ahead once again. The 2-1 lead would be what the Cubs would have to settle for with two Cubs walked with one out. Kris Bryant bounced into an inning ending double play. The Cubs would add on in the fourth inning starting with Jason Heyward’s one out single. Jason Kipnis then hit the second bomb of the season to double the Cubs score.
Hendricks again ran into trouble in the fifth inning. Bubba Starling and Whitt Merrifield hit back to back singles to start the inning. Jorge Soler hit a sacrifice fly to cut the score to 4-2. Hendricks induced an inning ending double play on the next plate appearance.
The Cubs and Royals traded zeroes for a few frames. The Cubs threatened in the seventh inning by loading the bases with one out, but couldn’t extend their lead anymore. Willson Contreras hit a one out solo shot against Trevor Rosenthal in the eighth to make it a 5-2 game.
Jeremy Jeffress pitched a clean eighth inning and that meant Craig Kimbrel had the ninth inning. Salvador Perez hit a 1-0 fastball for a single. Kimbrel came back to punch out Ryan McBroom for the first out. Adalberto Mondesi crushed a knee high fastball to the base of the wall to put two runners in scoring position. Kimbrel was pulled in favor of the lefty Kyle Ryan. The southpaw got the groundball into the shift to trade a run for an out. Maikel Franco hit a solid single back up the middle to drive in Mondesi. The pinch runner Nick Heath took off and the throw from Contreras went into centerfield to allow the tying run to reach third. Bubba Starling hit a smash down the line on the 3-2 pitch, but Bryant calmly snagged it to field the final out of the game.
Kyle Hendricks wasn’t the amazing Hendo who showed up on Opening Night and he wasn’t the Not Greg Maddux™ of his second start either. Instead the Cubs ace pitched seven strong innings despite start the night shaky. It continued the Cubs streak of wins with a quality start even if the starter wasn’t quite the level of special he was that first game. He might have been just lukewarm water but it was refreshing to watch all the same.