Wicks leaves early with injury, while Cubs offense stays quiet against Cards

More of the same old story for the Cubs, times two.

The offense stayed dormant, scoring no runs on 3 hits, and they suffered another pitcher injury while losing to the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 on Friday at Wrigley Field.

“I'm not sure frustration helps anybody play better,” manager Craig Counsell said after the game. “So you've got to keep trying to do the right things and the right things will work out in your favor in the long run. That's what you have to believe.”

Starting pitcher Jordan Wicks, who just spent six weeks on the injured list with a left forearm strain, left this game after facing three batters in the top of the second inning with right oblique discomfort. He'll get imaging Saturday but is likely headed back to the injured list and will be sidelined for a few weeks.

“I just felt tightness on my right side after making a pitch,” Wicks said, his voice terse with frustration. “Didn't think a whole lot of it. Threw a couple more and it didn't get any better. When it persisted a couple pitches in a row, I knew something wasn't right.”

Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks throws against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fourth inning of a baseball game Friday, June 14, 2024, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) AP

Wicks' early exit set the stage for the one piece of good news for the Cubs. Kyle Hendricks came in from the bullpen and finally looked like his old self.

Hendricks retired the first 11 hitters he faced, then gave up a couple of groundball singles before completing 4⅓ scoreless innings without much hard contact.

The Cubs' last remaining World Series hero was sent to the bullpen after posting a miserable 10.57 ERA as a starter this season. Now with Ben Brown and likely Wicks going on the injured list, Hendricks figures to get another chance in the rotation.

“I think an outing like today is proof how Kyle conducts himself and goes about his day — to be ready for the next opportunity, no matter what's happened in the past,” Counsell said. “I thought he pitched really well in general, located stuff really well, had some awkward swings.”

Hendricks had to duck out quickly after the game and did not speak to reporters.

The Cubs keep waiting for the offense to snap out of this extended funk, but they might have hit a new low Friday by collecting just 3 hits for the second straight game.

As usual, the problem is everyone and everything. Guys who seemed to be getting hot have cooled off again. Cody Bellinger had 9 hits in the previous five games but went 0-for-4 Friday. Dansby Swanson started June hitting .324, but is 0 for the last 9.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jordan Wicks throws the ball against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, June 14, 2024, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks) AP

Ian Happ is 1 for his last 21, Mike Tauchman 2-for-22, Nico Hoerner 2-for-21, Seiya Suzuki 2-for-15. The one hitter doing well lately is Michael Busch, hitting .400 over the last seven games.

The Cubs were defeated by both the wind and the Cardinals. Bellinger drove right-fielder Alec Burleson to the ivy in the sixth inning and Patrick Wisdom appeared to hit a 2-run homer in the eighth. Both balls died in the wind and Wisdom's blast was caught deep in the well in left field.

“That's a tough one to swallow given the situation late in the game and how game-deciding it could have been,” Wisdom said. “Who knows how it would have played out?”

St. Louis catcher Pedro Pages did manage to drop a home run into the basket in left field to break a 0-0 tie in the eighth. Not that it matters, but per StatCast, Pages' hit would be a home run in just 3 of 30 ballparks. Wisdom's drive would have been a homer in 20 of 30 and Bellinger's in 8 of 30.

The home run near-misses became less relevant when the Cardinals tacked on 2 runs in the top of the ninth against Colten Brewer. The costly hit was a bloop double to short right field. Second baseman Hoerner couldn't reach it after a long run, but the ball glanced off the end of his glove and rolled away from right-fielder Suzuki.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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