Game Eighty-Nine – Cubs 6, Rangers 0
WP – Kyle Hendricks (8-6) LP – Martin Perez (7-6) Save – None
Kyle Hendricks pitched six scoreless innings. Addison Russell scored the first run on a two-out single from Javier Baez and drove in two runs in the five-run sixth inning. Matt Szczur delivered a two-out, two-run pinch hit single. The Cubs turned in several outstanding defensive plays. And the bullpen picked up where Hendricks left off with three innings of shutout ball as the Cubs beat the Rangers on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs started the ‘second half’ of the season with a win and the first complete game in quite some time. The Cubs played well in all three phrases of the game and took advantage of the opportunities the Rangers gave them. The Cubs closely resembled the team that played the first two months of the season.
Kyle Hendricks put together another strong outing. Hendricks set the tone in the first inning when he pitched out of a runner on third and one out jam without allowing the Rangers to score. Hendricks gave up three hits, all singles, and only two hits after the first inning. Hendricks allowed six baserunners in six innings and kept the Rangers off balance in a game that was much closer while he was on the mound than the final score indicates.
Kyle Hendricks was lifted in the bottom of the sixth for pinch-hitter Matt Szczur when Maddon had a chance to blow the game open. Maddon’s gamble worked. Szczur delivered a two-out, two-run, pinch-hit single that capped the five-run sixth inning and gave the Cubs a 6-0 lead.
Hendricks allowed three hits with two walks and a hit by pitch in six scoreless innings. Hendricks struck out three on 87 pitches, 50 for strikes.
Carl Edwards Jr. had another stellar outing in relief of Hendricks. Edwards Jr. struck out two of the three batters he faced in the seventh inning. Travis Wood and Pedro Strop completed a scoreless eighth and Justin Grimm was lights out in the ninth to close out the win.
Addison Russell (2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and two RBI) had a huge game at the plate. Russell is playing with a confidence that was missing at times earlier in the season. Russell doubled in the second and scored on a two-out single from Javier Baez (2-for-4 with a RBI).
The Cubs offense went to work against Martin Perez in the sixth inning. And it was good to see the offense show up to the park again.
With the Cubs leading 1-0, Kris Bryant (1-for-4 with a run scored) led off the sixth with a single to left center. Anthony Rizzo (1-for-4 with a double and a run scored) just missed a two-run homer to right and had to settle for a double off the top of the ivy. With runners on second and third with no outs, Willson Contreras (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) walked to load the bases.
Addison Russell lined a 2-1 pitch back up the middle. Russell’s single to center plated Bryant and Rizzo, 3-0 Cubs. Contreras went to third on the play.
Jason Heyward (0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored) pulled a 1-2 pitch toward first base. Prince Fielder grabbed the ball but paid too much attention to Contreras dancing down the third base line. Fielder tried to throw to third. The ball sailed and Contreras scored on Fielder’s error … 4-0 Cubs. Russell stopped at third and Heyward went to second on the error.
Albert Almora Jr. (0-for-4) popped out to center for the second out. With runners on second and third, two outs and the Cubs leading 4-0, Maddon sent up Matt Szczur to hit for Hendricks. Jeff Banister left Martin Perez in to face Szczur and it cost him two runs.
Matt Szczur (1-for-1 with two RBI) ripped Perez’s first pitch into center. Russell and Heyward scored, 6-0 Cubs. Banister finally went to his pen and Tony Barnette walked Ben Zobrist (0-for-3 with two walks) before Bryant popped out to center to end the inning.
The Cubs scored six runs on seven hits and five walks with only three strikeouts. And three of the Cubs six runs scored on two out hits from Javier Baez and Matt Szczur.
The Cubs defense was outstanding Friday afternoon. Albert Almora Jr. turned in a game changing play in the fourth inning with the Cubs leading 1-0 at the time.
Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell had excellent games in the field behind Hendricks and the bullpen. The defense really stood out Friday as a big difference in a game that was 1-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning.
With Friday’s win, the Cubs improved to 54-35 on the season.
Jason Hammel takes on Yu Darvish in the middle game of the series on Saturday afternoon (1:20pm CDT).