CI Recap (5/5/17) – Cubs 2, Yankees 3: Castro Returns, Bullpen Falters Late

Starlin Castro was a huge part of the Cubs for six seasons. During the darker moments of the Cubs’ rebuild Castro was the biggest draw the Northsiders had. At the same time, he was a source of controversy for the mental errors that seemed to plague him in Chicago. Today he returned to Wrigley Field, only this time as an opponent (click here for Castro tribute video played at Wrigley today).

The Cubs were looking to Kyle Hendricks to stick around and eat up innings today after a bullpen-draining 13 inning victory Thursday.

A double and a hit-by-pitch in the top of the first inning put two men on base for Starlin’s first at bat. The Cubs played his walk up music and he got a big hand (not as big as I expected, perhaps a reflection of divided opinion?). He promptly lined to left and was robbed by a sliding Jason Heyward, who threw to 2nd for a double play.

In the bottom of the first, Kris Bryant continued to resemble a ball of flames taking Michael Pineda deep to right for a home run that gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

The length the Cubs were hoping for from Hendricks was not to be today. The Professor was pulled after giving up two hits in the sixth inning. Brian Duensing entered and allowed a wind aided bloop single to load the bases.

Chase Headley came up to bat and hit a fly ball to Heyward in right field. Castro tagged at third and headed for home, with J-Hey firing a missile toward the plate. The throw went up the line and catcher Willson Contreras caught it and collided violently with his former teammate, tagging him out and holding on to the ball in the process. Willson was down for a minute but bounced up and stayed in the game. It was a clean play and the collision was just one of those things that happens in a game.

The Cubs held tight to a one-run lead until Kyle Schwarber blasted a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Duensing went 1-2-3 through the seventh inning. Pedro Strop got the nod in the eighth inning and after a two-out single from Castro, he struck out the always dangerous Aaron Judge looking.

With Wade Davis unavailable — having pitched 3 games in a row — Hector Rondon got the save chance in the ninth. After allowing a single and a walk, it looked as if Rondon may escape unscathed. With two strikes on Brett Gardner and two outs in the inning, Gardner crushed a go-ahead three-run homer to right field.

Another old teammate, Aroldis Chapman, came on to close out the game for the Yankees.

Stats That Matter

  • Kyle Hendricks didn’t go as deep in the game as was hoped but he was effective: 5.1 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 6 K, and 2 BB. The velocity still has not returned for the Professor but results have been better of late. He’s allowed only two runs in his past three outings.
  • Kris Bryant went 1-for-3 with a walk and a homer. Remember when people worried about him? Funny, I know, but it actually happened.
  • Kyle Schwarber is still scuffling, however his second homer in as many starts is a good sign that he may be working his way out of his early season funk.

Bottom Line

I’ve been harping for a while on the lack of long outings from the starting rotation. So far, the bullpen has been incredibly good at carrying the starters. Today the pressure finally got to Rondon. Granted, he was in a save situation that would normally be reserved for Wade Davis, but it just goes to show how quickly things can turn right when it seems to be going your way.

On Deck

Brett Anderson looks to rebound from a rocky start against lefty Jordan Montgomery. The game on Saturday starts at 6:15 CST and will be televised exclusively on Fox Network and 670 The Score for radio.

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