Another lackluster performance Tuesday night, the Cubs guaranteed another losing road trip and needed a win just to avoid a sub-.500 July. Despite all that, the Cubs could still return home in first place with a pair of wins over the Cardinals.
Kyle Hendricks took the bump Wednesday evening and he brought with him a 7-0 record in his last 10 starts against the Cardinals. He got out of the gate in impressive fashion by striking out the side to begin the game, but it wouldn’t always be that easy.
To call Hendricks an escape artist would be an understatement. He surrendered leadoff doubles in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th innings only to leave the Cardinals runners stranded each time. Hendricks held up his end of the bargain by keeping the Cardinals off the board in his seven innings of work.
The Cubs sputtered through the first five innings against Miles Mikolas, but they were finally able to break through in the 6th inning. With two outs, Ian Happ lashed an RBI single to right field to score Kris Bryant and give the Cubs all the offense they would need.
The Cubs added an insurance run late after Javy Báez hit a ground-rule double in the top of the 8th. He put the Cubs up 2-0 after an errant pick-off throw allowed him score from second base, and that extra run would loom large in the bottom of the 9th.
Craig Kimbrel came on to close it out and made it somewhat interesting. Kimbrel made like Hendricks and was able to get out of a second-and-third-with-one-out situation to preserve the 2-0 Cubs victory. (Box score)
Why the Cubs won
Hendricks was locked in on this particular evening. Despite a lot of traffic on the basepaths, he was able work around potential threats and provide his team with a stellar performance.
With two outs in the 8th, Javy essentially baited Cardinals catcher Matt Wieters into throwing to second. Wieters double-clutched and nearly nailed his pitcher with an awful throw that allowed Javy to score a huge insurance run. Just another case of Javy doing Javy things.
Stats That Matter
- Hendricks: 6 IP, 7 Hits, 7K. He is now 8-0 against St. Louis in his last 11 tries.
- Rizzo: 1-for-2, double, BB
- Bryant: 1-for-4, run scored. After going 0-for-4 last night, KB was able to snap his offensive skid and reach base twice.
- Jason Heyward: 2-for-5, double. That’s back-to-back multi-hit games against his old club.
- Happ: 1-for-3, BB, RBI single. After notching his first hit Tuesday, this was Happ’s first RBI since rejoining the Cubs last weekend in Milwaukee.
It certainly wasn’t pretty on offense, but Hendricks and the bullpen did an excellent job and put their team in position to win. The Cubs will now have chance to win a road series tomorrow, a feat they have not accomplished since late May against the Nationals.