After sweeping the Minnesota Twins, the Cubs looked to keep the good times going against the reeling Detroit Tigers Tuesday. As has been the pattern of late, Chicago fell behind by three runs before storming back. The bullpen held Detroit in check while the Northsiders finished the comeback win.
Kyle Hendricks‘ 1st inning struggles continued Tuesday. Two singles, one hard and one soft, put runners on the corners with none out. Jeimer Candelario hit a weak grounder to second to score the first run of the game and second baseman Niko Goodrum ripped a double to right to increase the lead to 2-0. Detroit starter Michael Fulmer kept the Cubs off the board early, stranding the bases loaded in the 3rd.
The Tigers added a run on a James McCann RBI single in the 3rd inning, but further damage was avoided that frame when Anthony Rizzo cut off a Fulmer bunt attempt and turned it into a 3-5-4 double play. The Cubs stormed back in the 5th inning with a series of doubles. Pinch-hitter Tommy LaStella was first, followed by Albert Almora Jr. and Jason Heyward. Rizzo poked a single past a shifted third baseman to tie the game at 3-3.
The Chicago bullpen allowed only two runners the rest of the afternoon and one of those was on an error. Heyward and Ben Zobrist singled against Daniel Stumpf to put men on first and third with one down in the 7th. Rizzo hit a ground ball to second that was just soft enough to let him beat out a potential double play and give the Cubs a 4-3 lead. Kyle Schwarber tacked on a solo homer in the 8th and Pedro Strop saved the 5-3 win as the temporary closer. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Won
With Hendricks only going five innings, the relief corps needed to step up and they did. Anthony Bass, Justin Wilson, Steve Cishek, and Strop all pitched clean innings. Joe Maddon was also able to get Brandon Morrow some added rest after his four-out save Sunday.
Perhaps the best part of the Cubs rally in the 5th inning was that all the hits went the opposite way. They took what the pitcher gave them, not trying to hit a home run on every swing, and it worked brilliantly.
Stats That Matter
- Kyle Hendricks looked better Tuesday against an obviously not-great lineup: 5 IP, 3 R, 7 H, 2 K, and 1 BB. Once again, it was the 1st inning that was the issue for him. The Professor has an 8.47 opening inning ERA in 2018, which also has the effect of shortening his starts.
- Jason Heyward just keeps coming through in big spots for Chicago. He was a key part of the Cubs’ two rallies and he made a great sliding catch into the side wall in right for good measure.
- Willson Contreras reached base three more times and is back above the .280 mark as a hitter.
The Cubs keep spotting opponents leads and they keep coming back on them. It’s not a long-term trend you want to continue, but they are showing they are never out of any game. They have now erased the ground they lost during their five-game losing streak.