Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 4.74 ERA) took the mound against Tyler Anderson (3-4, 4.73 ERA) in the series finale as the Cubs were going for the sweep. Hendricks was looking to continue his excellent run in May with an ERA of 2.36, having allowed three walks and recording 21 strikeouts in four starts.
It took only two at-bats for the Cubs to get on the board when Kris Bryant sent a towering solo shot to center. In the 3rd, El Mago was up to his usual tricks, somehow turning what should have been an inning-ending rundown between first base and home into an RBI fielder’s choice. A comedy of errors allowed Baez to advance to second, and he would later score on a single by Ian Happ to make it 3-0.
One inning later, Patrick Wisdom gave the visitors a four-run advantage with a blast to left-center, his first of the year. Pittsburgh cut the Cubs’ lead in half with a pair of solo jacks in the bottom of the frame and would add a third in the top of the 7th to make the score 4-3.
In the 9th, Bryant recorded his second RBI of the day with a sharply hit groundout to short. Ryan Tepera would finish off the Pirates with a four-out save as the Cubs secured the sweep by a final of 5-3. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs Won
Another strong start by Hendricks, some manufactured offense, and a great job by Tepera out of the bullpen resulted in today’s victory.
In the 8th inning, the Cubs found themselves in a jam as they clung to a 4-3 lead. With a runner on third and one away, Dan Winkler got Ben Gamel to pop up for the second out but then allowed the next two batters to reach, loading the bases. Ryan Tepera came in to clean up the mess by getting Erik González to ground out to short, escaping with no damage.
This, plus Baez’s sorcery in the 3rd, was the difference in today’s game.
Stats That Matter
- Hendricks was very good, once again: 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 5 K, 0 BB
- In his first start of the year, Wisdom took full advantage of the opportunity: 2-for-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, HR, 2B
- In the last 34.2 innings, the bullpen has not allowed a run, marking the longest scoreless stretch in team history.
The Cubs’ starting pitching was excellent in this series, allowing seven runs in three games. If they can continue this trend and match the performance of the bullpen, they have a legitimate shot to take control of the division.
Adbert Alzolay (2-4, 4.30 ERA) squares off against Vladimir Gutierrez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) in the series opener against Cincinnati. First pitch is scheduled for 1:20 pm CT on Marquee, MLB Network, 670 The Score, and WRTO for Spanish speakers. If you’re in-market and looking to get the game via streaming service, check out a free preview of fuboTV.