We’ve waited four months to see MLB back in action, and all the while I worried about the Cubs pitching – much as I do every season. Tonight was no different, as a pitcing implosion cost them a loss to their crosstown rivals, the Chicago White Sox.
Hendricks looking good
Hendricks, affectionately known as “The Professor,” got off to a good start. Despite allowing a single in the first inning (after grinding for 22 pitches), Hendricks escaped damage. In the Cubs’ half of the first, newly acquired second baseman Jason Kipnis (batting in the DH spot) would give the Cubs an early 1-0 lead, depositing a home run into the center field bleachers.
Moving into the second inning, Hendricks needed 15 pitches to complete the frame. He did issue a walk, but once again escaped damage, as his pitching finesse worked him out of the small jam.
The Cubs would add to their lead in the bottom of the second. Willson Contreras hustled to beat out a slow-roller to third, earning himself an infield single. Next, Jason Heyward showed patience at the plate, drawing a walk. Victor Carartini hit a long fly ball to center, allowing Contreras to tag-up and take third. Finally, rookie Nico Hoerner hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Contreras from third. The Cubs now led 2-0 after two innings.
Hendricks was looking to throw around 85 pitches, but finally found himself in trouble in the top of the fifth. After serving up a homerun ball to Adam Engel, Hendricks next gave up a pair of singles to Tim Anderson and Jose Abreu. That ended Kyle’s night at 83 pitches.
The implosion begins
Enter newly acquired Cubs’ RHP Jharel Cotton. I have no idea why Chicago signed this guy, and my concerns were confirmed within about the first five pitches he tossed. Cotton gave up a two-run, RBI double to Yasmani Grandal, tying the game on only his second pitch of the night. Next, Cotton served up another double for Edwin Encarnacion (run scored), and then gave up yet another double to Luis Robert. Next, Leury Garcia tripled, putting the Sox up 6-2 after the top of the fifth.
The scoring would stop until the seventh inning.
Not that the Cubs will carry him on their 26-man roster, but left-hander Rex Brothers allowed another run in the 7th, putting the Sox up 7-2. Righty, Dan Winkler would work a scoreless eighth, but the damage was already done.
A Little More Offense For the Cubs
The Cubs would get to Sox righty Carson Fulmer in the eighth, loading the bases on walks before David Bote tallied an RBI on a swinging bunt down the third base line. The Sox would then insert righty Codi Heuer who would retire Hernan Perez on just one pitch.
The South Siders win this one by a final of 7-3.
The Cubs’ Offense
Offensively speaking, Jason Kipnis really surprised me. I expected good things from NIco Hoerner, and the rookie from Stanford delivered. I was somewhat concerned with Javier Baez making weak contact at the plate (Javy also had a fielding error earlier in the game), but the season is young.
The Cubs will face the Sox Sunday, July 20th at US Guaranteed Rate Field on Chicago’s south side. Game time 7:10 PM Central.
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