Game Sixty-Five – Cubs 2, Twins 7
WP – Phil Hughes (5-6) LP – Kyle Hendricks (2-3) Save – None
The Cubs simply did not look like a team prepared to play a baseball game Friday at Target Field. Physical and mental mistakes set the tone in the first inning and the Cubs handed the Twins the first game of the weekend series.
The Cubs committed more errors than the two the team was charged with by the official scorer. And it would be easier to list those that played a clean game Friday night than the players that made the mistakes. Starlin Castro created the headlines with another mental lapse in the first inning but with a couple of exceptions, the entire team just went through the motions.
Friday night was by far the Cubs worst performance of the season … and really only two things went right for the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo hit a pair of solo home runs and Edwin Jackson pitched the final three innings in relief of Kyle Hendricks that kept Joe Maddon from having to use another reliever in a blowout game.
It was such a lopsided game, even with the long half innings in the first, fifth and sixth in which the Twins scored six of their seven runs, it only took two hours and 18 minutes to complete nine innings.
Kyle Hendricks did not receive the support from his defense that he needs in order to be successful. But at the same time, Hendricks did not hit his spots Friday night. Hendricks left too many pitches up in the zone and surrendered not just a season-high in hits, but the 11 hits (six for extra bases) he allowed was the most he has given up in a single start in the big leagues.
Edwin Jackson tossed three scoreless innings in relief of Hendricks. Jackson gave up one hit, struck out two and walked a batter.
Anthony Rizzo (2-for-4 with two home runs) was the Cubs offense. Rizzo hit two home runs, one leading off the fourth and one with two outs in the ninth. The Cubs managed only four hits and not a single walk. Phil Hughes retired the last 15 batters he faced Friday night.
Addison Russell (1-for-3) and Miguel Montero (1-for-3) collected the other two hits.
With Friday’s loss, the Cubs slipped to 35-30 on the season.
The first inning set the tone for both teams for the entire night.
After the Cubs went down in order on just seven pitches, six for strikes, to start the game, the Twins took advantage of Kyle Hendricks’ poor location and the Cubs’ bad defense in the home half.
Brian Dozier led off with a single to left. Eddie Rosario singled to right. With runners on first and second and no outs, Joe Mauer blooped a 3-2 pitch into left. Chris Coghlan misread the ball then appeared to be indecisive about what he wanted to do, play it on a bounce or dive? Coghlan played it on a bounce, and the Twins had the bases loaded with no outs.
Trevor Plouffe rolled a 2-2 pitch to short, a tailor made double play ball. Starlin Castro booted the ball. Dozier scored. But Castro went to sleep as he was beating himself up for making the error. Castro turned and just looked into center field. Eddie Rosario realized Castro was not paying attention and he ran to the plate and scored … without a throw. It was an incredibly bad play from a Major Leaguer. Joe Maddon could have pulled him from the game without many disagreeing with his decision.
With runners on first and second, no outs and the Twins leading 2-0, Eduardo Nunez hit a 1-2 pitch to third. Kris Bryant fielded the ball, stepped on third and threw across the diamond. Bryant’s throwing issues continued and he was well off the mark toward the outfield side of the bag. Kurt Suzuki lined back to Hendricks and he completed the inning ending double play when he tossed the ball to Russell at second base … the Cubs were 1-for-3 on double play opportunities in the first inning.
The Twins added to the lead in the third. Eduardo Rosario led off the inning with a triple to right. With the infield in, Mauer grounded out to second. Rosario held at third. Trevor Plouffe doubled to right. Rosario scored, 3-0 Twins. Eduardo Nunez tapped back to the mound. Plouffe took off for third. Hendricks fielded the ball cleanly and threw to second. Russell fired to third for the out. Kurt Suzuki grounded out to the hole at short to end the inning. Hendricks made 47 pitches, 30 for strikes, in three innings. And after three it was 3-0 Twins.
Anthony Rizzo led off the fourth with a solo blast to right center and cut the Twins lead to 3-1. But that would be all for the Cubs offense until the ninth inning.
Kyle Hendricks pitched a 1-2-3 fourth inning. The Twins led 3-1 after four innings.
The game got out of hand in the fifth and it was over by the sixth inning.
Brian Dozier led off the fifth with a double to left. Rosario popped out to center. Hendricks fell asleep on the mound, did not pay attention to Dozier and he stole third. Joe Mauer walked. A wild pitch with Plouffe allowed Mauer to take second. With runners on second and third and the infield in, Plouffe doubled to left center. Dozier and Mauer scored, 5-1 Twins. Nunez bounced back to the mound. Plouffe took off for third and was eventually tagged out (1-5-6). Montero threw out Nunez at second with Suzuki at the plate to end the inning.
It was 5-1 Twins after five innings … and the game wasn’t really that close.
After the Cubs went down in order in the sixth, the Cubs defense gave the Twins two more runs in the home half. Suzuki led off with an infield single. Kennys Vargas doubled to left center and put runners on second and third with no outs. Maddon brought his infield in. Escobar singled to center. Suzuki scored. Dexter Fowler missed the cut off man. Montero tried to make a play and threw to second. Escobar would have been safe, it was a bad idea. The ball ended up center field. Vargas scored, 7-1 Twins. And that was it for Kyle Hendricks.
Edwin Jackson replaced Hendricks with Escobar at third. Jackson retired Buxton on a grounder to short, Dozier on a grounder to short and struck out Rosario swinging to end the inning.
The Twins had a 7-1 lead after six innings.
The Cubs did nothing against Phil Hughes. And the Twins could not add to their lead against Edwin Jackson.
Paul Molitor replaced Phil Hughes with J.R. Graham in the ninth.
Addison Russell led off the ninth with a single, the Cubs’ third hit. But he was erased on a 6-4-3 double play after replay overturned the original call that Dexter Fowler was safe at first base.
Anthony Rizzo stepped in and launched his second home run of the night, a solo shot to right center that made it 7-2 Twins. Kris Bryant flied out to left, snapped his 14-game hitting streak, and ended the game.
Jon Lester faces Trevor May on Saturday afternoon (1:10pm CDT) in game two of three with the Twins.