WRIGLEY - If this was a regular 162 game MLB season, the Cubs would've faced the Don Mattingly led Miami Marlins and David Ross and his coaching staff would have a long drawn out scouting report to aid and assist their playoff approach.
Maybe a scouting report would not even matter at this point. The same ol Cubs offense that we've come to know very well over the last 3-4 seasons showed up in game one as a five run 7th led to a Marlins 5-1 win. They didn't do Kyle Hendricks any favors. Other than Ian Happ (2-4 HR RBI) the rest of the Cubs lineup went 2-29. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward went a combined 0-14 against a tough righty in Sandy Alcantara.
Alcantara's lively 97 mph fastball kept Cubs hitters off balance through damn near 7 innings (6.2 to be exact) as he only allowed three hits and one run (Happ solo HR) while striking out four. Former Cub reliever Brandon Kintzler came on in the ninth to finish the job. KIntzler had a look in his eyes that said he was ready to stick it to his old team as he struck out Javier Baez in the bottom of the 9th and let out a "I know you, well" smile.
Ross tipped his cap to Alcantara but also knows his offense was huff.
"Give some credit to their guy but we didn't swing it well today. We're still working trying to get that side of the ball going. We didn't help him (Kyle Hendricks) out a couple of times there. I thought he was executing pretty well when he needed to."
Now ain't the time to be working on trying to get that side of the ball going.
Kyle Hendricks wasn't the command and location guru that he's known to be (he allowed 3 walks and a HBP) but held the Marlins to two hits through six innings. After two one out singles in the top of the 7th, Hendricks looked to be on his last leg but Ross kept the ball in his starters hands. Marlins leadoff man Corey Dickerson took a first pitch 4-seam fastball into the left field bleachers to give Miami a 3-1 lead.
Ross pulled Hendricks one batter (maybe three) too late.
“Just the swings that Dickerson had taken off of him previous. I thought he had some pretty bad swings & Kyle seemed to be in command in two of the three at bats. I trust in Kyle right there," Rossy said when asked why he didn't pull Kyle after the first two singles. Hendricks finished his afternoon with 106 pitches.
For the Cubs offense it's as simple as this. When they are hitting the long ball they are among the best teams in baseball. When they're not they are arguably the worst. A huge lack of situational hitting and a lot of bad uninspired at-bats. Baseball 101 is missing as a whole in Major League Baseball and it's extremely obvious on the north side of Chicago.
#ELMAGO Javier Baez struggled big time in the 2020 regular season hitting .203 with 75 strikeouts (Photo by Maria Nevarez)
It gets no easier tomorrow for the Cubs as the Marlins will trot rookie phenom Sixto Sanchez to the bump in game 2. Sixto throws lots of strikes and has a fastball with 98-100 mph velocity.
The Cubs will counter with the likely NL Cy Young winner Yu Darvish. Ross refers to the days Darvish takes the mound as "win day" and the Cubs need exactly that if they plan on coming back to the Friendly Confines on Friday for game 3.
Kyle Hendricks is more than confident in the ace of the staff.
“No panic...we've got the guy we want on the mound for us tomorrow."
*Food For Thought* The Cubs have scored one run in six of their last seven postseason games