The Cubs and Cardinals have a lot on the line in the final series of the season. A division title for the Northsiders and a playoff berth for the Redbirds. Kyle Hendricks came to play on Friday, helping cut the home team’s magic number to two.
The Cubs jumped on Adam Wainwright in the 1st inning. Daniel Murphy got a hit, Ben Zobrist walked, and Anthony Rizzo singled to make the score 1-0. Jason Heyward hit a grounder that Kolten Wong misplayed, allowing him toreach first.
Kris Bryant showed no ill effects from being plunked in the wrist against the Pirates, blasting a long homer to center field in the 4th. Rizzo added a sacrifice fly in the 5th inning to up the lead to 4-0 Chicago.
Hendricks was pitching well and generating lots of ground balls, but ran into trouble in the 6th. He hit Matt Carpenter and Jose Martinez doubled, putting men on second and third with one out. A Paul DeJong grounder and a single by Marcell Ozuna cut the Cubs lead in half.
Wong doubled and Harrison Bader reached via error to put two on with one out in the 7th. Hendo was able to escape the jam by striking out pinch hitter Matt Adams and coaxing a Carpenter fly out. Murphy hit a sac fly after a Cardinals throwing error, to increase the edge to 5-2 after seven.
The Professor finished his lecture by stranding two more runners in the 8th. The Cubs tacked on insurance runs on a bases-loaded walk by David Bote and a two-run single by Albert Almora. Those runs turned out to be big as the Cards scored two against Jorge De La Rosa before he closed out the win. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
Hendricks came up big, as he has done so often before, and pitched eight innings to save the bullpen. The Cubs also took advantage of the Cardinals’ putrid defense to build a big lead.
Carpenter stepped up to the plate representing the go-ahead run in the 7th inning. With the salsa maven’s success against the Cubs in 2018, the stress level was high. Hendricks kept his cool — shocking I know — and got Carpenter to hit a weak fly ball to preserve the lead.
Stats That Matter
- The Professor finished the season with 199 innings pitched: 8 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 2 K, and 2 BB. After a slow start to the year, he ended up with a very solid 3.44 ERA and racked up 14 wins.
- Murphy is starting to square up the ball a bit more of late and had two hits Friday including a double.
- Almora has two big hits the last three games, if he could recapture some first-half magic it would help in the playoffs.
The win moves the Cubs 1.5 games ahead of the Brewers pending their game in Detroit. One more win or Milwaukee loss ensures Chicago will at least tie for first. This win is also a crippling blow to the Cardinals’ playoff hopes, not that any Cubs fans would take joy out of ending their season.
The Cubs try for another big win Saturday afternoon as Cole Hamels goes up against Miles Mikolas. FOX selected the broadcast, so the start time is now 12:05pm CT, not 3:05 as originally scheduled.