Angels blank Cubs
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Angels blank Cubs


by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - One day after Justin Steele and the Chicago Cubs (41-49) took care of the Los Angeles Angels (37-51) at Wrigley Field, it was time for the Halos to return the favor. In what was more of a turn-back-the-clock type day regarding the velocity, the fans saw a matchup between Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Anderson.

This wasn't the game the Cubs had in mind as Hendricks left after just two innings due to lower back tightness while Anderson was locked in from start to finish as he struck out 10 batters in eight shutout innings to lead the Angels to the 7-0 win. Anderson retired 24 straight hitters in this one as he retired 13 straight after allowing his first hit before retiring the final 11 he faced after allowing his second hit.

Anytime a pitcher gets into a groove like that, you have to tip your cap, as this was one of those throw-it-in-the-trash types of games. As rough as things have been for Hendricks, he has turned it on as of late as he entered the game with a 3.50 ERA across his last three starts, including a start where he allowed seven runs. He has managed to turn his season around, which is all the Cubs and their fans could ask for, but in this, Hendricks had to deal with a tight strike zone and was victimized by plenty of soft contact.

That has been Hendricks's story of the season, as his numbers can be a little deceiving, especially when you look at the contact he has allowed. You started to see that unfortunate luck immediately in the first inning as a leadoff walk was followed by a pair of soft singles as the Angels had the bases loaded with no outs.

Hendricks came close to working out of that jam, but a bases-loaded hit by a pitch to Logan O'Hoppe put the Angels in front for good, 1-0. Things could've been much worse, but Seiya Suzuki made a great running catch in right field before throwing out Keston Hiura at home for an inning-ending double play. Suzuki had arguably the best game of his MLB career in right field as he came away with several tough catches throughout the game.

Despite their struggles against Anderson all game long and for the better part of the past three years, Nico Hoerner started things off on the right foot with a leadoff single, only to have Anderson strike out the next three. That hit from Hoerner was the only base runner the Cubs would have for a while as Anderson retired the next 13 hitters he faced.

The same can't be said about Hendricks and the Cubs, as the Angels continued to live off the soft contact. This time, it was a two-out rally, getting things started with another walk and setting things up. That was followed by a pair of singles, including a flare from Hiura to right field to make things 2-0. Tomas Nido prevented further damage by throwing out Hiura trying to steal second as Hendricks finished off the inning, but he wouldn't return as he left the game with back tightness.

“I just wasn't effective,” Hendricks said. “I was just trying to go out there and give as much quality as I could. I just couldn't get extension, couldn't finish anything. And my misses were just bad. They weren't me. It just stood out and it was smart to just not push any further.”

That forced Craig Counsell to go to his pen much sooner than he wanted to, but with Steele tossing a complete game on Friday, they were well-rested and ready to go. Colten Brewer was the first out of the pen, and this is where things went south for the Cubs. It all started with a leadoff walk once again before a potential double-play ball turned into a costly throwing error as the Angels had two on and no outs.

O'Hoppe followed that with another RBI single for the Angels to make things 3-0, with Zach Neto also adding a single to push the lead to 4-0. Los Angeles added a third run later in the inning off a throwing error from Nido as they pushed their lead to 5-0 and had the Cubs searching for answers.

With Anderson making quick work of the Cubs in their half of the third, Jorge Lopez was back out for the Cubs after taking over to finish the third for Brewer. There is an old saying that walking the leadoff man will come back to bite you, and after Lopez did that in the fourth, the Angels had runners on the corners with no outs. Lopez managed to minimize the damage by getting a double play, but another run came in to score to extend the lead to 6-0.

The next inning saw the Angels close out the scoring as Jo Adell took Drew Smyly way deep to the left for his 14th homer as they pushed their lead to 7-0. In a game where soft contact was the difference, Adell's homer was anything but soft as it left the bat at 110 MPH. It took nearly four innings for the Cubs to have another baserunner, but with Michael Busch picking up a one-out single in the fifth, he has reached base in his last 25 starts.

Like the single he allowed to Hoerner in the first, Anderson bounced back in a big way as he retired the final 11 hitters he faced to give the Angels eight shutout innings. Despite the Cubs horrendous bullpen this season, their bullpen ERA has been 2.40 since June 20 which happens to be the fourth-best in the MLB during that time. With Ethan Roberts and Tyson Miller giving the Cubs three scoreless innings to end the game, they managed to keep that success intact.

Had this been a closer game, that would've been the telling point in this game, but with only three baserunners (all on singles) for the Cubs life was tough offensively as Hoerner picked up the final hit with a leadoff single off of Ben Joyce in the ninth. That was followed by a pair of strikeouts to end the game as Joyce flashed his 103 MPH heater with ease to lock things down.

The Cubs will go for the series win on Sunday as they close out their final homestand before the All-Star break with Hayden Wesneski on the mound. This game will also have some history worth noting, as Beth Mowings, Elise Menaker, and Taylor McGregor will have the call, marking the first-ever all-female crew to do a Cubs game.

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