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Pirates 6, Cubs 2: Back to school for The Professor

It was not a good day for Kyle Hendricks.

Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Kyle Hendricks had a very good outing last week against the Brewers in his first start of 2022, which produced some optimism that The Professor was back on track after the worst year of his career.

The start he made Wednesday was more like many of his 2021 outings, unfortunately, and that led to a 6-2 loss to the Pirates and a series split.

I’m not as upset about the three-run homer by Ben Gamel off Hendricks in the first inning as I am about all the walks he allowed — four of them — which shows that he didn’t have his usual control or command.

It might have been different if Hendricks hadn’t missed touching first base in the first inning on a ball hit to, and knocked down by, Frank Schwindel. If Hendricks makes that play the inning is over. He looked upset at himself for not making the play; he had beaten Ke’Bryan Hayes to the bag but didn’t step on it. Then he walked Yoshi Tsutsugo and Gamel hit the home run and pretty much everyone could have gone home then, because Gamel’s homer was enough runs for the Pirates to win the game.

Let’s look at a couple of Cubs highlights and other important things in this game, shall we?

Before that disastrous bottom of the first, Willson Contreras had given the Cubs a 1-0 lead [VIDEO].

That ball was crushed!

The Cubs managed just four other hits the rest of the afternoon. One of them was this RBI single by Seiya Suzuki in the fourth [VIDEO].

Fun Suzuki fact:

Anyway, those two runs are pretty much what passed for offense from the Cubs in this one. One guy I’m really concerned about is Patrick Wisdom, who has looked awful at the plate so far this year. He is 1-for-17 with nine strikeouts. Now, guys sometimes go through stretches like that during any season, even great hitters. Being 1-for-17 (.059) to start your year puts on added pressure. Perhaps going to hit in Colorado will help him out of his slump.

One positive thing from this one: Cubs relievers threw 4x shutout innings, allowing just one hit and a walk, with five strikeouts. Michael Rucker, Rowan Wick and Scott Effross put together good outings. All 14 pitchers on the Cubs’ active roster have now appeared in a game (Rucker was the only one who hadn’t before this game) over the first five games of the season. In 1974, the Cubs used 14 pitchers... for the entire season. (And one of them, Mike Paul, appeared in just two games.) Just shows you how much baseball has changed over the last five decades.

This isn’t an excuse for losing, but this called third strike on Jason Heyward was ... not correct:

I’ll be interested to see the ump scorecard on Mark Wegner tomorrow.

Here’s a nice defensive play by Willson Contreras in the fourth [VIDEO].

What on Earth is Daniel Vogelbach doing that far off second base?

Incidentally, that happened in the fourth inning. This screenshot is from the beginning of the fourth:

Marquee Sports Network

Attendance at this game was noted in the boxscore as 9,122. That’s... not anything close to 9,122, looked like maybe half that, or even less.

That’s all I’ve got for this one. I’m concerned about Hendricks. His next start will be Monday at Wrigley Field against the Rays, and it’s likely a very good thing that he doesn’t have to pitch at Coors Field.

Which is where the Cubs head for a four-game series beginning Thursday evening against the Rockies. Justin Steele will throw the series opener against Rockies lefthander Kyle Freeland. Game time Thursday is 7:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.