After losing the first two games of four against the Atlanta franchise, the Cubs needed a win to stave off a second series loss. Kyle Hendricks took the ball for the Cubs looking to build momentum after a quality start victory against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 23. Hendricks instead posted a similar performance to his last start against Atlanta, when he allowed four homers in the 1st inning.
This time, he allowed home runs to Marcell Ozuna and Austin Riley in the opening frame, each scoring two Atlanta batters. Hendricks’ counterpart, Huascar Ynoa, channeled his inner Shohei Ohtani by striking out nine Cubs batters with the assistance of 98 mph heat while going 2-for-3 with a home run. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
Hendricks was unable to properly locate his pitches, hanging meatballs in the middle of the zone that were hammered by the Atlanta offense. Meanwhile, the Cubs offense managed just five hits. This was the perfect recipe for another blowout loss.
After Hendricks retired Ronald Acuña Jr. on a fly ball to start the game, reigning National League MVP Freddie Freeman singled to left field to bring Ozuna to the plate. Ozuna belted a hanging curveball to left field to drive in the first two Atlanta runs. The home team would go on to score 10 runs on 18 hits, 11 of which were allowed by Hendricks.
The Cubs’ lone highlight of the night came in the 7th inning when Anthony Rizzo took over pitching duties from Alec Mills in order to face his buddy Freeman, who was 4-for-4 until that plate appearance. Rizzo did not disappoint. He struck out Freeman swinging with a 61 mph curveball and maintained his 0.00 career ERA.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 29, 2021
Stats that Matter
- Two of the Cubs’ five hits came from Kris Bryant, who leads the team with a .993 OPS.
- Ian Happ‘s OPS has sunk to an abysmal .472 after going 0-for-2 with one strikeout.
- With the four-run frame, Hendricks’s 1st inning ERA now stands at 21.60 for the year. It may worthwhile to revisit my discussion from April 2019 on whether using an opener would be merited.
- Atlanta had five home runs against Cubs pitching, three against Hendricks and two against Mills.
The back-to-back shutout was the fifth straight defeat for the Northsiders. They will not have a successful season when both the starting pitching and offense are unable to perform with any kind of consistency.
The Cubs will have the chance to salvage the series tomorrow in the finale at Truist Park as Adbert Alzolay will take the mound against Bryse Wilson. Gametime is at 6:20pm CT on Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score.