Cubs hang on for 5th straight win
Things got dicey in the 9th inning again, but the Cubs held on for their 5th straight victory.
Kyle Hendricks pitched well and the Cubs played great defense and hit enough to pull out a 5-4 victory over the Royals at Wrigley Field.
Manager David Ross went to Craig Kimbrel with a 3-run lead in the 9th inning and the veteran picked up his first strikeout of the season but he also gave up a single and a double. Ross had seen enough and pulled Kimbrel in favor of Kyle Ryan who gave up an RBI groundout and a run-scoring single.
Pinch runner Nick Heath stole second base and advanced to third on Willson Contreras’ throwing error, putting the tying run 90 feet away. But Kris Bryant made a great play on a hard-hit ground ball to end it and improve the Cubs’ record to 9-2 on the season.
Kimbrel was charged with 2 earned runs and has now surrendered 6 runs in 1.2 innings on the season.
Ross felt like Kimbrel has made some strides in bullpen work recently and wanted to get him some game action Tuesday night, preferably with the lead.
“I think that we really need Craig Kimbrel to be a big part of this bullpen,” Ross said. “We have to throw him, we have to get him innings and continue to judge where he’s at according to see what the hitters do.”
For the second straight night, the Cubs defense was spectacular with Bryant making a pair of fantastic plays at third base and Javy Báez teaming up with Jason Kipnis to turn a slick double play leading the highlight reel.
Over the last few games, Cubs offense hasn’t been quite as locked in as we saw them the first week of the season, but they’ve still worked the count and delivered with the longball.
Jason Heyward and Kipnis each hit a 2-run shot and Contreras added a solo blast in the bottom of the 8th inning for some cushion.
“It’s a different guy every night,” Ross said. “It felt like that again tonight.”
Hendricks gave up 7 hits but limited the damage and allowed 2 runs over 7 innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out 3.
“Not as sharp as I’ve seen him early and then really settled in there late,” Ross said. “Good outing, continues to make pitches. We expect good outings from Kyle and this staff’s done a really good job and Kyle continues to answer the phone.”
Jeremy Jeffress continued to come up big out of the bullpen to toss a perfect 8th inning against the top of the Royals order before giving way to Kimbrel in the 9th.
The Cubs will head to Kansas City to begin a quick 2-game series with the Royals Wednesday night. Coverage begins on Marquee Sports Network at 6 p.m.