On an incredibly cold night in Chicago, Patrick Wisdom stayed just hot enough to help the Cubs open their homestand with a win. His two-run homer in the bottom of the 2nd inning was his first of the season and it came against Rays starter Shane McClanahan, who looked every bit as good as he’d been billed for most of the rest of the game.
The Cubs held that 2-0 lead until the 4th inning, when an otherwise fairly dominant Kyle Hendricks started to get hit a bit harder. He allowed an RBI single to Ji-Man Choi that closed the gap to 2-1 and then a Josh Lowe RBI single in the 5th chased Hendricks after just 4.1 innings.
The Cubs were able to regain the lead for good in the 7th when Ian Happ hit an RBI single that drove Seiya Suzuki home. It was Happ’s fifth hit as a right-handed batter this season, a very good sign that he’s made big improvements to that portion of his game.
A solo homer by Frank Schwindel was the icing on the cake in the bottom of the 8th inning and David Robertson was able to slam the door with very little drama for his fourth save of the season. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
After Hendricks posted a shorter outing than the Cubs probably would have liked, Keegan Thompson was absolutely nails in 3.2 innings of relief as he allowed just one hit, and one walk while striking out five.
Not only was Thompson impressive over the long haul, but he was also impactful immediately. He entered the game with just one out in the 5th inning and runners on first and third. He promptly ended the threat by forcing Randy Arozarena to ground into a 3-6-3 double play and the Rays never threatened the rest of the game.
Stats That Matter
- Suzuki was 2-for-3 with two runs scored, raising his average to .429 on the season. The Japanese import has a hit in nine straight starts and has reached base in all 10 games he’s played.
- Nick Madrigal went 2-for-4 from the leadoff spot tonight. After starting the season off in a bad slump, he’s got his season average up to .281.
- Hendricks only lasted 4.1 innings in large part because he couldn’t keep the Rays off the bases. In his second straight short outing, he allowed five hits and walked two while allowing two earned runs. He did, however, notch six strikeouts.
It’s not time to worry about Hendricks yet, but we’re heading down that road. He’s totaled just eight innings in his last two starts and has allowed eight runs on 12 hits and six walks. He got off to a rough start last year too before working it out, so there’s a chance he’s just a slow starter at this point in his career.
The Cubs will host the Rays on Tuesday night with another 6:40pm CT start that will be carried by Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score. Justin Steele (1-0, 1.93) will get his third start of the season against a TBD starter for Tampa.