Cubs Record: 84-47 (1st Place NL Central)
W: Kyle Hendricks (13-7, 2.09)
L: Chad Kuhl (3-2, 3.70)
S: Aroldis Chapman (11)
MVP: Kyle Hendricks: 7 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 4 K, 1 BB
After a 13-inning marathon on Monday night, the Cubs and Pirates battled again Tuesday night at Wrigley. National League ERA leader Kyle Hendricks matched up against young right-hander Chad Kuhl and T he Cubs needed the Professor to go deep in the game Tuesday to save their tired bullpen.
Chicago wasted no time in jumping on the Pirates starter. Javy Baez started the bottom of the 1st getting plunked by a Kuhl pitch. Anthony Rizzo then drove home Javy and himself on a two-run homer to right field. In the bottom of the 2nd, Addison Russell walked and stole second base. For the second game in a row, Miguel Montero lined a single the other way to plate a run: 3-0 Cubs.
Kyle Hendricks was brilliant once again Tuesday night. The Dartmouth product went 7 innings of 3-hit, shutout baseball against a formidable Pirate offense. He only had 4 strikeouts, but generated tons of weak contact. The only well-struck ball he allowed was a pinch-hit double by John Jaso in the 6th. Maddon could have sent his righty out for one more inning, but saved some bullets for later.
Carl Edwards Jr. pitched around a Jordy Mercer double for a clean top of the 8th. Aroldis Chapman made quick work of the Bucs in the 9th inning to close out a 3-0 Cubs victory.
Hendricks gave the Cubs exactly what they needed on Tuesday, a deep outing to give most of the bullpen a rest. As an added bonus, the Cy Young contender picked off Josh Harrison in the top of the 4th. Oh, and that league-leading ERA? It’s down to 2.09.
Rizzo’s blast gave the Cubs all the offense they needed in the 1st inning. It ended a power drought for Tony, who had only one longball all August. Jorge Soler had another impressive night at the dish for Chicago, walking twice and hittin an opposite-field single. Going opposite field more consistently would be a huge development for the big outfielder.
Montero knocked in the third run of the game, but his work behind the plate deserves a nod. In the top of the 5th, Miggy gunned out Starling Marte trying to steal second. That is the same Starling Marte who has 46 stolen bases. Montero also caught a shutout against the Pirate lineup. The veteran catcher may get left off the postseason roster but he was good Tuesday.
The home plate umpire was better Tuesday than Tripp Gibson was on Monday night. Still, Brian Knight missed a couple of calls, especially on Edwards’ sliders in the 8th. I’m a strong believer in having an electronic strike zone. It makes the games more fair, but I also think it would take pressure off home plate umps.
The game Tuesday was very well-played by both teams. It was crisp, low scoring, and only took 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete. I guess if there was one ugly play it was by Pirates first baseman Josh Bell. Kris Bryant popped up behind second base with the Pirates in a shift. Bell scrambled backwards and fell trying to stab the soft blooper. Bryant ended up at second with a hustle double, I guess.
The Cubs look to complete the sweep of the Pirates Wednesday night. Jason Hammel (13-7, 3.21 ERA), unhappy over getting pulled after 2.1 innings on Sunday, faces Ryan Vogelsong (3-3, 3.02 ERA), who’s glad to be pitching after getting hit in the face while batting earlier this year. The game starts at 6 PM CT and is on ESPN, so beware of media narratives. The Cubs keep getting closer to winning the National League Central, but that’s just the first step.