Hendricks, Brown roughed up as Rangers rout Cubs
Kevin Jairaj - USA Today Sports

Hendricks, Brown roughed up as Rangers rout Cubs

by - Senior Writer -

ARLINGTON - In most cases, when you look at a player struggling in Spring Training, you tend to brush it under the rug. Chicago Cubs (0-2) right-hander Kyle Hendricks is one of those guys, as his historically bad Spring numbers tend not to matter once the regular season starts. However, at some point, you have to wonder if his Spring struggles are the beginning of the end, and against the Texas Rangers (2-0) at Globe Life Field, those struggles came full circle.

Right from the start, you saw this would be a long night for Hendricks, as a pair of two-run homers early in the game was just the beginning. Hendricks labored through 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits, including those two homers. Justin Steele also left his start early with an injury on Thursday, and the Cubs pitching staff has already been put to the test as the Rangers hammered the Cubs 11-2 on Saturday.

Opposing Hendricks was Cody Bradford, who, although not perfect, pitched well enough to get the win.

Bradford only lasted five innings, but with just two runs and three hits allowed, his performance was good enough to earn the win. Bradford struck out six in his five innings, while the Rangers offense took care of the rest.

It didn't take long for the Cubs to open the scoring as it was a near-carbon copy of what happened on Thursday. With neither team being able to score in their first at-bats, Christopher Morel led off the bottom of the second with a single to give the Cubs their first baserunner of the night. That was followed by the Dansby Swanson long ball as it was the Cubs striking first 2-0.

Those would be the only runs of the day for Chicago, as hits were a struggle the rest of the way while the Texas offense was about to get started.

After the Rangers wasted a scoring opportunity in the first with two singles, they made sure to cash in during the second inning as they continued to hit Hendricks hard. Wyatt Langford started things off with a sharp single to left, only to have Jared Walsh leave the yard to tie things up 2-2. The long ball played a vital role in the Rangers' early-game offense, with Adolis Garcia going deep for the second time in as many nights in the third to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead.

Now in front, the relentless Texas lineup started to work against Hendricks in the fourth, as his already rough night was about to get worse. That all started with Walsh picking up a leadoff single while a Marcus Semien walk gave Texas a pair of baserunners. On the verge of escaping trouble, Corey Seager ensured that wouldn't happen as his RBI single extended the lead to 5-2, which was the end of Hendricks' night on the mound.

He was replaced by Jose Cuas and Luke Little, who made quick work of the Rangers over the next 2 1/3 innings. Down but not out, Morel started the top half of the seventh inning with a single against David Robertson, as the Cubs were hoping to get things started. That hit quickly went to waste, as a double play killed what could've been a rally and kept the Cubs scoreless for a fifth straight inning.

In one of the most anticipated MLB debuts in the Cubs system, hard-throwing right-hander Ben Brown toed the rubber for the first time in the seventh.

After a scoreless frame to begin his MLB career, Brown went south in a hurry, completely imploding during the eighth. As if another leadoff hit from Walsh wasn't bad enough, Brown loaded the bases with no outs, forcing him to work out of the first significant jam of his career.

Things didn't end well for him as Semien and Seager picked up consecutive RBI singles to push the lead to 7-2, while the Evan Carter groundout gave the Rangers an 8-2 lead. Texas was just getting started as they pushed across six runs in their half of the eighth, with Garcia adding a sacrifice fly ahead of the Josh Jung homer and putting the Cubs in an 11-2 hole. That was the end of the road for Brown as Craig Counsell put Yency Almonte in to finish the eighth while the Cubs offense went down quietly in the ninth.

Despite being just two games into the 2024 season, there are already plenty of concerns with this Cubs team.

That all starts with their starting pitching, as they may have less depth than they would've liked while the offense continues to flounder, much like they did to end the season. Morel is one of the players who isn't struggling as he picked up two of the Cubs five hits with Garrett Cooper, Swanson and Ian Happ grabbing the rest. Chicago will turn to Jordan Wicks on Sunday as he looks to play stopper.

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