No late drama this time as Cubs beat Diamondbacks, drop their magic number to 10
PHOENIX – About the only disappointing thing about Monday night in Arizona for the Cubs was a third of an inning.
Kyle Hendricks badly wanted it, just one more of the 27 outs he’d require for his first game of the year. But with a homer already allowed in the ninth and another runner reaching on a hit, manager Joe Maddon decided to pull him after 109 pitches.
There was some disappointment for the pitcher that he couldn’t finish it out, but that’s about the only thing that went wrong against the Diamondbacks.
Hendricks scattered just three hits and that one ninth inning homer to AJ Pollock over 8 2/3 innings, which was plenty for a rejuvenated Cubs offense that scored their most runs in nearly two weeks in a 5-1 win over Arizona at Chase Field.
It drops the Cubs’ magic number to 10, and it stayed there since the Brewers knocked off the Reds 8-0 at Miller Park earlier in the evening. But that wasn’t very disappointing to a Cubs team that finally got to breathe a little bit after a stressful stretch of games in a long string of games.
In the 28th of 30 straight days without a scheduled day off, the Cubs made sure there would be no drama at the end of this contest in the sixth. It started simply in a scoreless game as Anthony Rizzo’s groundout brought home a run to give the visitors the lead, but Javier Baez had a much more dramatic way to increase the lead.
With a strong swing then scream towards the dugout, Baez sent a ball 420 feet to center for the two-run homer to make it 3-0, giving him a team-high 32 homers along with 105 RBI.
Kris Bryant followed suit in the eighth for a little insurance, and it had been a while. Not since July 20th had the third baseman/outfielder had taken one out of the park, with a significant time in between being spent on the disabled list, but that changed with a fly ball to right field that got out for his 12th of the season.
The five runs were the most scored by the Cubs since September 9th, when they had the same amount when the lost to the Nationals by a run in Washington D.C.
Hendricks took all the stress out of the Cubs with perhaps his best performance of the year, striking out eight batters while allowing just a single walk. While he didn’t get that complete game he was looking for, he only had to wait around for one pitch to see his victory sealed. On Justin Wilson’s first pitch to Daniel Descalso, Paul Goldschmidt tried to steal second, put catcher Willson Contreras threw him out to end the game.
It was a contest that was a welcome break in what has been a tiring and stressful end of the year for Maddon and his team.