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Cubs 6, Rockies 3: Kyle Hendricks, home runs put Cubs back in first-place tie

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The Cubs used the long ball and solid pitching for their second straight win.

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hendricks had a typical Professor-like game Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field, striking out 10 Rockies and even contributing an RBI single. That, and some prodigious Cubs home runs, led the Cubs to a 6-3 win over the visiting Rox.

Hendricks quickly disposed of the first two hitters he faced, then three well-placed Rockies singles (including one that bounced off Hendricks) produced a 1-0 Colorado lead. But then Kyle retired eight straight Rockies hitters while the Cubs were taking the lead back over Rockies starter Jeff Hoffman.

Javier Baez smacked a single into left to lead off the second inning and Carlos Gonzalez, who seems rejuvenated over his two days as a Cub, smashed an RBI double over Ian Desmond’s head [VIDEO] to tie the game 1-1.

Javy seems nearly back to his usual baserunning (and defensive) self; in this Tribune article he pronounced himself “probably at 95 percent.” I would concur.

Two outs later, the Rockies decided to intentionally pass Addison Russell to pitch to Hendricks.

You know, Hendricks isn’t a very good hitter, but he’s been a tiny bit better this year.

And here’s his tiny little bloop RBI single [VIDEO], complete with gulls flying in front of the cameras.

Former Cub Daniel Murphy homered off Hendricks in the fourth inning to tie the game at 2. I say “former Cub” specifically because there seemed absolutely no reaction for Murphy, either positive or negative, when he came to bat, almost as if he had never been a Cub at all.

Anyway, one inning later, Kyle Schwarber gave the Cubs the lead back [VIDEO].

What in the...

Per Statcast, that was the second-longest Cubs home run at Wrigley Field this year (Anthony Rizzo’s against the Angels April 12 at 472 remains the longest). Here are all the longest Cubs homers this year, home and road:

That gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead, but Javy was not to be outdone. After Rizzo led off the sixth with a single, Baez to the shrubbery [VIDEO].

Now it’s 5-2 Cubs, and fun fact:

Hendricks was given the chance to finish the seventh inning, even after allowing a double and RBI single that made it 5-3. He struck out the last two hitters he faced, pinch-hitter Mark Reynolds and then Raimel Tapia on changeups that poor Tapia had no chance against (Tapia contributed three of Kyle’s 10 strikeouts). It was Kyle’s fourth career game of 10 or more K’s:

You’ll notice that Kyle’s maximum velocity ticked up a bit for this game; he had several fastballs at 90, and when he can do that, the changeup is even more devastating.

Steve Cishek threw an efficient 10-pitch eighth, recording all the outs on ground balls, then the Cubs added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning. Kris Bryant doubled and went to third on an infield hit by Baez, who slid into first base safely. (I always cringe while watching those.)

CarGo was next to the plate [VIDEO].

As you can see at the end of that clip, Baez took second on the play, but was stranded. As for CarGo, a small sample size of two games looks pretty good: 2-for-6 with two runs scored, two RBI, a walk and one sensational play in right field.

Albert Almora Jr., who batted for Hendricks in the seventh (and got a warm ovation as he came to bat, likely for his emotion shown after his foul ball hit that little girl in Houston last week), might be odd-man-out for a while, according to Joe Maddon:

Albert Almora Jr.’s improvements at the plate won’t assure him consistent playing time with Carlos Gonzalez available.

“No warm and fuzzy,” manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday night. “We’re just trying to win games, and I’m trying to balance it out as well as we possibly can.”

The article goes on to note Almora’s improvement vs. RHP, but with CarGo available and playing well, Almora’s playing time might be reduced. It’s a good problem to have — too many good players. I’d think CarGo would at least play all three games in the Rockies series, against his former teammates. Incidentally, Gonzalez had some interesting observations about the 2018 Cubs, who his Rockies defeated in the 2018 wild-card game, via Patrick Mooney at The Athletic:

“We knew they were struggling,” González said. “We knew they were limping. They finished losing the division at the end of the year. It just seemed like they were down. You never want to show that to the opponent because that’s exactly what we did. We took advantage of it.”

A lesson to live by, I’d say.

Back to Tuesday’s game: Pedro Strop, just activated off the injured list, entered in the ninth for the save opportunity. He immediately threw three pitches out of the zone, but recovered to get Murphy to ground out. Two more ground outs later, he had his fifth save of the season. It was the Cubs’ 11th save as a team this year. Hopefully with Pedro back, and with Cishek and Carl Edwards Jr. throwing well, that will stabilize the last couple of innings when the Cubs have the lead late.

The Cubs moved back into a first-place tie because of what has to be the most ridiculous game of the season, the Marlins’ 16-0 win over the Brewers in Milwaukee. Miami scored 11 runs in the fifth inning, a franchise record, and it was the second-worst shutout loss in Brewers history (they lost 17-0 to the Reds in 1998).

Strange but true fact: On May 15 the Marlins were 10-31. Their 12-5 record since then is second-best in the National League. Only the Dodgers at 14-3 are better. So perhaps the Marlins can continue that for the next couple of days in Milwaukee.

All of that produced a virtual tie between the Cubs (33-26) and Brewers (34-27) for first place in the N.L. Central, with the Cubs a few percentage points ahead. The Cardinals, who lost to the Reds, trail by three. The Pirates are five games back and the Reds, in last place, are 5½ behind.

Lastly, to complete a perfect evening (which also had perfect weather), the game ran 2:34, the fourth-quickest Wrigley Field game of 2019. And so, the complaint department door is shut tight and locked this morning.

A reminder that the Heroes & Goats feature is on hiatus until the game of June 15.

The Cubs will go for their third straight win Wednesday evening, when they’ll face the Rockies again. Yu Darvish will start for the Cubs and German Marquez will go for Colorado. Game time is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on WGN, with the game also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Rockies market territories).