Admit it: after it was 6-2 you fell asleep around the fourth inning, figuring it was over. Now you are waking up to realization that you missed a spicy ending to the game. Granted it ended up a 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Dodgers, but it was a positive showing after a rough start from Kyle Hendricks.
What You Need to Know: Tonight was not just the worst night Hendricks has had all season, it was one of the toughest he has had his entire career. Facing a talented Dodgers lineup that has recently been able to function at all cylinders meant Hendricks had to be on his best.
Hendricks was unable to avoid the middle of the plate tonight, and the Dodgers did not miss on those opportunities. Max Muncy and Joc Pederson both went deep against Hendricks, while a Yasmani Grandal double was only feet away from leaving the park.
Hendricks’ night ended only after going 2 2/3 innings, giving up six earned runs on eight hits. It was the third time in his career he has been unable to get through three innings of work.
Once the ball was passed on to the Cubs bullpen, things settled down, and eventually the Cubs were able to get themselves back in the game with the tying run only 90 feet away. Yet, once Dodgers manager Dave Roberts signalled for Kenley Jansen to come in for the four-out save, those 90 feet felt farther away than before.
Jansen’s cutter proved too much for Addison Russell who struck out swinging to end the inning. After an insurance home run by Cody Bellinger off Randy Rosario in the eight, Jansen came back in the ninth to close the evening’s festivities.
Next Level: Tonight’s loss was the sixth in the last seven games, yet this rough patch for the Cubs has not been without positives.
After last night’s performance, Javier Báez was able to continue his good form with two more hits, including a double. Willson Contreras showed tonight why he should be considered among the best catchers in the majors, homering in the first inning, and doubling in the eighth to drive in two more runs.
One intriguing development from tonight’s game was the return of Dillon Maples, making his first appearance this season after being called up yesterday. Maples’s slider looked great: it’s shown a ton of movement, and he was able to use it for nine called strikes tonight. While command issues might mean a trip back to the minors in the near future, with his plus slider and a fastball that can top out at 98 mph, look for Maples to be a bullpen option towards the end of the season.
Top WPA Play: Contreras’ first inning home run gave the Cubs the lead for a short moment tonight (+.183).
Bottom WPA Play: Russell’s strike out against Jansen to finish the eighth inning stranding Contreras at third base (-.091).
Up Next: This afternoon the Cubs will go for a split of the four-game series with a starting pitching rematch from last years NLCS game 5. José Quintana will face Clayton Kershaw, who will make his second start since coming off the DL (again). Expect Kershaw to go deeper into the game than the 3 innings and 55 pitches he threw last Saturday.
Lead photo courtesy Kelvin Kuo—USA Today Sports