Entering the series finale against the division-rival Cardinals, the Cubs were 60-44 and were fighting to avoid a three game sweep. Kyle Hendricks took the mound for the Cubs and overcame a rough first inning to deliver seven strong innings in a winning effort.
Kyle Hendricks has had an up and down season so far, but he rebounded after giving up a two run home run to Marcell Ozuna in the first-inning to settle in and not give up another run. The Cubs offense received a boost from solo homers by Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist and capitalized on a key Cardinals error in the fifth inning to tag on a few extra insurance runs.
The Cubs got a stellar start out of Kyle Hendricks and delivered some key hits helped by some of the Cardinals defensive mistakes to take the third game in this series (Box Score).
Why The Cubs Won
In a season when starting pitching has been shaky for the Cubs, Kyle Hendricks came through with a strong outing and showed signs of improvement from his up and down season to date. Kyle didn’t walk anyone and struck out eight over his seven innings. Hendricks retired the last 17 Cardinals he faced. The Cubs offense did just enough to get the win and avoid a series sweep and showed that defense really can make a difference in the outcome of the game.
In the top of the fifth inning, the game was tied 2-2. Hendricks struck out to start the inning, which was followed by an infield hit by David Bote. Following a fielder’s choice by Rizzo that got Bote out at second, Zobrist delivered a double to put runners on second and third with two outs. Jason Heyward managed to reach first base on a game-deciding error by Cardinals’ second baseman Yairo Munoz, which allowed the Cubs to take a 3-2 lead. Javier Baez proceeded to hit a line drive down the third base line to plate two more runs and lead to the final score of 5-2.
Stats That Matter
- 7- Kyle Hendricks gave the Cubs seven strong innings, rebounding from three consecutive outings of five innings pitched or less and gave the Cubs’ bullpen some well-needed rest.
- .313- Anthony Rizzo continued his strong month of July with his fifteenth home run of the season, and is hitting .313 in the month. The Cubs’ offense is going to need their powerful first baseman to deliver down the stretch if they plan on making a deep playoff run.
- 4- Zobrist had a strong game, going 4-for-5 with a double and the aforementioned home run to raise his season batting average to .304. He just continues to deliver good at-bats and is showing no signs of slowing down at age 37.
The Cubs managed to save some face in the series finale, avoiding their second series sweep at the hands of the Cardinals this year. Starting pitching has been the main story and concern for the Cubs all season long and a string of strong outings from Hendricks could go a long way towards alleviating some of that concern. The Cubs took advantage of a key Cardinals mishap and that ended up being the deciding factor in the game.
The Cubs get a day off on Monday before heading to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates in an abbreviated two-game series. Jon Lester gets the nod for the Cubs Tuesday night, while the Pirates counter with right-hander Jameson Taillon. First pitch is slated for 6:05 CT and will air on NBC Sports Chicago.