Another night, another quality start by the Cubs starting rotation. Kyle Hendricks was dominant with his mid 80’s fastball, pitching to contact effectively. The offense backed him up with a second consecutive seven-run output behind homers by Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. David Bote added a two-RBI single to celebrate Bote Day. For those not in the know, Bote Day is the *official Chicagoland holiday where Cubs fans gather with friends and family to remember Bote’s walk-off grand slam against the Nationals in 2018.
With the win, the Cubs finished the somewhat strange road trip at 3-1 with a postponed series against the Cardinals sandwiched between a split with Kansas City and a sweep of the Indians.
I could have gone with Bote or Rizzo, but tonight’s hero was definitely Kyle Hendricks. Indians skipper, Terry Francona, loaded the lineup with lefties (or switch hitters), and it worked to Kyle’s advantage. It allowed him to settle in with his changeup, and he positively mystified the Indians hitters. He left after the sixth inning with a line of 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, and 5 SO. Perhaps my favorite stat of the night is that Hendricks faced twenty-five hitters and never reached a three-ball count on any of them!
You will rarely, if ever, find me blaming a loss on an umpire. A game is won or lost by a collection of what a team does on the field. So, I intentionally have chosen a five-run win to pick on home plate umpire, Tim Timmons. He was…inconsistent, to say the least. Over the years, I have listened to more games called by Chicago legend, Pat Hughes, than I could try to number, and I’m hard-pressed to remember Pat taking such a direct shot at an umpire. In what was my favorite quote of the night, Pat Hughes said in the top of the ninth, “Tim Timmons [is] behind the plate calling balls and strikes…mostly balls.” And that, my friends, is a hall-of-fame hot take if I’ve ever read one!
His often egregious grasp of the strike zone was not his worst moment. In the top of the fifth, Willson Contreras attempted to check his swing, and Timmons wrung him up, declining to check with the first base umpire. Obviously, that is his prerogative, but it always irks a hitter when the home plate umpire makes that call on what, in this case, replays showed to be close enough to warrant a point down the line. Contreras said a few words as he walked away then slammed his bat into the ground, breaking it in the process. It is unclear whether it was what he said or the slamming of the bat, but Timmons tossed Willson from the game. Again, that is the umpire’s call, but it seemed unwarranted.
David Ross came out to argue (by my unofficial count, it was his first on-field argument with an umpire as a manager). Cameras captured him saying to Timmons, “I know you know baseball, but that’s crap.” You have to love Grandpa Rossy. He’s even polite when giving an umpire the business!
I feel a little guilty picking on a team that the Cubs swept, but goodness, the Indians pitching staff seemed to have left their control in the clubhouse. Five Indians pitchers combined for nine walks. According to my somewhat unreliable math, they threw a total of 191 pitches in a game where the Cubs only had eight hits. It was a long night.
The Cubs head home to host the Milwaukee Brewers for a four-game set. Though the Brew Crew is coming off an ugly 12-2 loss to the Twins and is currently sitting a game under .500, they are always a tough series. Yu Darvish will take the mound for the Cubs against left-handed pitcher, Brett Anderson. With St. Louis (theoretically) on deck and the White Sox in the hole, this starts a stretch of games that could really serve as a benchmark in the early going for the Cubs.
Tomorrow’s game against the Brewers is on Fox and starts at 6:15 CT.
Featured Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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