The Cubs came into Tuesday night’s game hoping to shock everyone and take their series against the team with the best record in baseball. Behind a surprisingly terrific effort from Kyle Hendricks and a beleaguered bullpen, the home team scratched out another one-run win to seal the unlikely series triumph.
Nico Hoerner ambushed the first pitch he saw from Tampa ace Shane McClanahan and deposited it in the second row of the left-field bleachers for a leadoff home run. Hendricks was not super sharp, yet he pitched around a lot of baserunners with the help of several outstanding defensive plays and kept the mighty Rays off the scoreboard through four innings.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) May 31, 2023
Tampa Bay finally tied the score in the top of the 5th inning when Randy Arozarena lined an RBI single to left in what would be Hendricks’ final inning Tuesday. Ian Happ hit a pop-up to right field that second baseman Brandon Lowe froze on, allowing it to drop for a double in the 6th. Happ eventually made it to third with two outs and Monday’s offensive hero, Mike Tauchman, brought him home with an opposite-field single to left.
That was enough for the Cubs ‘pen, which tossed four scoreless frames of relief. Most impressive was Adbert Alzolay, who struck out four batters in two perfect innings of relief to earn the save. (Box score)
Lowe hit a ground ball up the middle with men on first and second and one out in the top of the 1st. Hoerner knocked the ball down at second and an attempted shovel to Dansby Swanson went wide of the base. Wander Franco attempted to score from second base but Swanson made a perfect throw to catcher Yan Gomes to nail him at the plate and keep the game scoreless.
Why the Cubs Won
For a second consecutive game, they kept the best offense in baseball in check and were able to do just enough with the bats to win.
Stats That Matter
- Hendricks still has some rust, but allowing only one run to Tampa in five innings is certainly not bad: 5 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 3 K, and 3 BB.
- Seiya Suzuki had two singles and a walk, plus he made a very nice sliding catch in right.
- Tauchman continues to have impressive at-bats with a pair of hits and a walk on Tuesday.
This is a very surprising two-game stretch for the Cubs, who have now won both contests against the Rays despite scoring only two runs. Marcus Stroman‘s complete game allowed David Ross to use his best available relievers to preserve the lead Tuesday. I wish I could tell you how Chicago can win a series against the best team in baseball after getting swept by the Reds. It’s why baseball is captivating and completely nonsensical.