Cubs Observations: Pirates Pounce on Kyle Hendricks Early in Loss

Observations: Pirates pounce on Hendricks in Cubs loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Cubs lost 6-5 in the series finale against the Pirates Sunday, snapping a five-game winning streak.

Here are 10 observations from the game:

1. Cubs shortstop Javy Báez was out of the starting lineup on Sunday, after leaving Saturday’s game with lower back tightness. Utility infielder Ildemaro Vargas started at short in his absence.

2. Cubs center fielder Jake Marisnick left the game in the first inning with a right hamstring strain. The Cubs outfield was already shorthanded with center fielder Ian Happ on the 10-day injured list with bruised ribs. The Cubs called up outfielder Nick Martini from Triple-A Iowa on Friday to give them another outfield option.  

3. The Pirates scored four runs off Kyle Hendricks in the first inning, déjà vu from Hendricks’ earlier first-inning struggles.

4. But this time, the Pirates thrived on weak contact off Hendricks all day. Hendricks didn’t give up a home run for the first time since April 7 against the Brewers. Hendricks entered play Sunday leading the league in home runs allowed (11).

5. Kris Bryant, with the Cubs’ first hit of the game, broke the Cubs’ singles streak. Before Bryant’s second-inning double, the Cubs’ last 16 hits had been singles.

6. After replacing Marisnick in the lineup, Joc Pederson drove in the Cubs’ first run in the second inning, and off a left-handed pitcher, no less. Entering play Sunday, Pederson was 1-for-13 against southpaws this season. He hit a line drive into center field off Pirates pitcher Tyler Anderson, and Bryant scored from third base. That single gave Pederson his first RBI off a lefty this year.

7. Pederson boosted his average against lefties with two hits off Anderson on Sunday. He also hit an RBI single  off a right-hander in the ninth inning to keep the inning alive and cut the Pirates' lead to three runs.

8. Two errors on the left side of the infield cost the Cubs runs. The Pirates scored their fourth run of the game on a throwing error by Vargas. They scored their sixth on a fielding error by third baseman Matt Duffy.

9. Coming off his first MLB win against the Dodgers on Tuesday, rookie left-hander Justin Steele pitched two scoreless innings out of the bullpen. He’s part of a core of rookie pitchers – including Trevor MeGill and Keegan Thompson – who have impressed on the mound this season.

10. Anderson held the Cubs to two runs on four hits in eight innings. He threw 101 pitches.

11. The Cubs made a ninth-inning stand. Vargas cut the Pirates' lead to one run with a two-run double. Then, Báez pinch hit with the tying run on second base. He launched a line drive foul, to the delight of chanting fans. But ultimately, Báez grounded out to end the inning.

On deck: After an off day Monday, the Cubs open a five-game road trip Tuesday. First stop, Cleveland, where Adbert Alzolay is scheduled to take the mound for the Cubs. Shane Bieber, the 2020 Cy Young winner, is the probable pitcher for Cleveland.

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