Kyle Hendricks cruising through the first three innings. A five-run frame off a Padres rookie pitcher in the second.
This game looked like it would be an easy win, but the Padres, being an actual baseball team, decided to make it close. The Cubs needed every one of those five second-inning runs to complete their second straight 5-4 win over the Padres on a very hot, humid Saturday afternoon at the ballyard.
The Padres went down 1-2-3 in the first and the Cubs had a two-out single from Jason Heyward in the bottom of the inning. After another 1-2-3 inning from Hendricks in the second, the Cubs got to work with the bats.
That’s 20 for Kyle, giving him two straight years with 20+. Ian Happ followed with a single, and after two men were retired Addison Russell singled in Happ to make it 2-0.
That was Rizzo’s 17th of the season and made it 4-0. Fun facts:
#Cubs Rizzo now has 5 HRs and 8 RBI in his last 9 games (and it's only 2nd inning)— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) August 4, 2018
#Cubs career Home Run List— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 4, 2018
10. Hack Wilson 190
11. Anthony Rizzo 182 (1 today)
12. Alfonso Soriano 181
13. Derrek Lee 179
14. Andre Dawson 174
Rizzo wound up 2-for-5 on the afternoon. He very well could catch Hack Wilson for 10th place on the all-time Cubs home run list by the end of this season. FWIW, next up after Wilson is Hank Sauer (198).
Ben Zobrist followed Rizzo’s blast with a double, and Heyward singled for the second straight inning to make it 5-0. In the second inning, with the bats and Hendricks on a roll, that run didn’t seem so important. It would turn out to be.
Hendricks hit Christian Villanueva leading off the third, but he was erased on a double play, so Hendricks faced the minimum through three. And then, Kyle fell apart in the fourth. He made a rare throwing error on an infield dribbler to put Travis Jankowski on second base. Manuel Margot followed with a double that stuck in the ivy. The run scored since Jankowski was on second; it was temporarily unearned due to the error, but after two more outs, one of which was a sac fly making it 5-2, Austin Hedges made the “unearned run” discussion moot with a long home run that made it 5-3.
Still. It’s the fourth inning, and surely the Cubs will score more runs.
They didn’t, despite a one-out double by Schwarber in the fifth on which he made a nice slide. He was called out on the field but it was quickly overturned on review [VIDEO].
That’s a terrific slide and it did not take long to get the call right:
It took New York review board 29 seconds to overturn that call. #Cubs Schwarber credited with a double— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) August 4, 2018
I can just imagine the conversation on the headset from New York: “What are you calling us for? He was obviously safe!”
Which brings up another point:
This umpiring crew is some kind of experiment to see what happens when you group the 4 worst umpires in baseball together— #EveryBoteIn (@EVR551) August 4, 2018
I can’t disagree with this at all. Overturned calls, missed ball and strike calls, it’s been a bad weekend for umpiring at Wrigley Field, and with C.B. Bucknor behind the plate Saturday, that might have been expected. Angel Hernandez has the plate Sunday; that could be another disaster.
Anyway, Schwarber was stranded, as were three more Cubs in the seventh, despite loading the bases with nobody out on two singles and a hit batter. An infield popup, strikeout and force play at third ended that threat.
By that time the Padres had made it 5-4 on a one-out single, double and sac fly in the sixth, at which time Hendricks was removed. His line of 5⅔ innings, five hits, four runs doesn’t look that good, but he didn’t walk anyone, struck out seven and at least until that rough fourth inning, looked like Kyle of previous years, setting up his changeup well for strikeouts. Hopefully we’ll see more of that going forward.
And then the bullpen did an excellent job. Steve Cishek relieved Hendricks and got Freddy Galvis to ground out to end the sixth, then he struck out the side in the seventh. Brandon Kintzler threw a 1-2-3 eighth, and after the Cubs also went down 1-2-3 in that inning, Pedro Strop entered for the save.
Now that surprised me, after Strop’s 26-pitch high-wire act Friday. But there might not have been any other choices, frankly; Carl Edwards Jr. had a 16-pitch outing Friday and the Cubs have tried to avoid back-to-backs with him, Kintzler was needed for setup and you really didn’t want to see Justin Wilson out there trying to save the game, did you?
So Strop it was, and he nailed down the win with his seventh save, striking out Hedges and Galvis to end it and throwing just 12 pitches. I would expect him to be unavailable Sunday, though.
It was really, really hot Saturday, 93 degrees at game time and 96 on my car thermometer when I left the ballpark. A breeze made it tolerable at times, but the Cubs opened the center-field bleacher suite as a cooling center and I heard quite a few took advantage of that.
Also, here’s an update on the sealed-bottle drink issue from the other day. As of Saturday, it’s back to the way it was previously, any factory-sealed non-alcoholic drink in a plastic bottle is permitted to be brought inside Wrigley Field. Whether this was all just a misunderstanding isn’t clear, but I’m happy to report they’ve done the right thing and restored the past procedure.
Bonus BCB points for the song reference in today’s headline.
The Cubs matched their season high at 18 games over .500 with this win, and if the Rockies can actually finish out a game tonight (geez, Wade Davis has been awful lately for them) and beat the Brewers, the Cubs could have their division lead increase to two games.
And the Cubs will go for the series win Sunday in their final game against the Padres for 2018. Jon Lester goes for the Cubs and Joey Lucchesi, who was scratched from Saturday’s start due to illness, will start for San Diego. Game time Sunday is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on WGN.