What You Need To Know: If you were hoping for an easy, I’ve-Figured-It-Out Kyle Hendricks ride, you didn’t get it. Hendricks got paper cut to death in the first, with only one hard-hit ball accounting for the two runs against. But he hung in there—which he’s basically been forced to do all season—didn’t pitch enough innings—which everyone has done all season—and the Cubs offense caught up because in the end, the Tigers just aren’t very good.
Next Level: It’s not a huge shock that after one of the hottest weekends in recent Wrigley history, and after pounding out 35 runs in three games, the Cubs offense found itself a little spent for the first four innings. Hey, how do you do at 3am on a summer night in a hot apartment? Might need a minute, right? That was the Cubs.
So Michael Fulmer, the one pitcher the Tigers have, was able to keep them at bay for 12 outs. But it doesn’t take much for this offense to break through, so once Tommy Baseball pinch-hit for Hendricks and started with a double, that was the click the Cubs’ stethoscope needed to break the safe open. Albert Almora and Jason Heyward—who’s, like, one of the most exciting players in baseball at the moment—followed with doubles for their own, and the chase was on. Give them an inch…
What’s strange is that though the Cubs brought forth an avalanche of runs on the weekend, it’s not like they bombed out to get them. They got the hits they needed with RISP, and they did that again today. Maybe this is just market correction for all the ones they didn’t get earlier in the year, but Anthony Rizzo got RBI on a single and a groundout, where it feels like earlier in the year he would have just struck out. The mark of a real offense is it can get you when it’s not totally on key.
Hendricks’s changeup seemed to be working better today, with eight whiffs on just 27 offerings. The problem for him is that he’s fallen behind in the count often, and then he either can’t throw it, or the hitter sits on it. No such problems after the first today. He didn’t have to work that hard, and could have given the Cubs one or two more innings if needed. But given they were down three and a hot day, Maddon pulled him after 5. This could be a problem later on, but the Cubs have an off day Thursday, and given his struggles of late let’s just take what we can get.
Finally, Jason Heyward is hitting .288. He’s only bested that once in his career (2015). Let’s just think about that for a second.
Top WPA Play: Heyward’s double to left in the 5th that made it 3-2 Tigers. (+.135).
Bottom WPA Play: Goodrum’s double that scored Castellanos in the 1st, really the only hard hit ball Hendricks gave up, that made it 2-0 (-.087).
ENGLAND TILL I DIE!*
*Editor’s note: Uruguay is gonna take it all, baby!
Lead photo courtesy Jim Young—USA Today Sports