Kyle Hendricks took the mound Wednesday night for his 32nd and final start of the year to finishing the worst season of his MLB career against the Pirates. Entering Wednesday night’s action, he led MLB with 195 hits allowed and his last quality start was on September 10 in the Northsiders’ home loss to the Giants.
A good final outing would have provided him a mental boost heading into the offseason and possibly salvaged his remaining trade value should the Cubs opt to move on. Hendricks did not have a vintage performance but kept the Cubs in the game, allowing two runs on five hits in five innings of work.
He faced Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Roansy Contreras, who was making his MLB debut. Contreras made an early exit but was sharp, striking out four Cubs batters in three scoreless innings as the first of seven Pirates pitchers on the night.
Why the Cubs Won
The Cubs were able to pitch out of jams and avoid the big inning even as they frequently failed to capitalize on putting runners on base in every inning.
After allowing a game-tying RBI triple to Bryan Reynolds, Hendricks was replaced by Adam Morgan, who loaded the bases with a walk and hit batsman. Kevin Newman‘s fly ball to center field scored the go-ahead tally for the Bucs, but Morgan struck out Michael Pérez and got Hoy Park to ground out to end the threat.
The Cubs responded in the 7th inning as Trayce Thompson laced a one-out double into left field off Chasen Shreve and advanced to third base on Rafael Ortega‘s sacrifice bunt. Frank Schwindel walked and stole second, then Contreras doubled off the outfield wall behind right fielder Yoshi Tsutsugo to drive in the runners.
Stats that Matter
- Cubs relievers did not allow any hits over four scoreless innings.
- Trent Giambrone picked up his first MLB hit in his first plate appearance with his 8th inning single off Anthony Banda.
- Giambrone was the 65th player used by the Cubs in 2021, a new National League record for a single season according to Cubs historian Ed Hartig.
The victory evens the series at one game apiece, so the Cubs have a chance to pick up a series win in Thursday’s finale before heading to St. Louis for the final weekend of the year.
The rubber match will take place at 5:35pm CT at PNC Park. Justin Steele (3-4, 4.86 ERA) will face a TBD Pirates pitcher.