Chicago Cubs shut out again, drop fifth straight
Based on past performance, this had the makings of dangerous pitching matchup.
Roughly 10 days ago, Kyle Hendricks started at Wrigley Field when Atlanta beat the Cubs 13-4, while Huascar Ynoa started when the Cubs beat the Braves 13-4.
Matched up against each other Wednesday in Atlanta, Ynoa stepped up his game and Hendricks had more problems. The Cubs were clobbered once again 10-0, extending their losing skid to five in a row.
The trouble started for Hendricks right away as he gave up 2-run homers to Marcel Ozuna and Austin Riley in the first inning. Ynoa later tagged Hendricks for Atlanta's third home run of the night.
This was the second-straight day the Braves sent a 22-year-old flamethrower to stymie Cubs bats. Ynoa topped out at 98 mph, so he actually threw a little harder than Ian Anderson on Tuesday.
Needless to say, Hendricks was frustrated after giving up 7 runs and experiencing the worst month of his major-league career.
"It's obviously a low point," Hendricks said. "It's a little bit of everything right now. Mentally, I was attacking, getting after it, tempo was better. Now just got to make better pitches. There are so many pitches over the middle of the plate that are flat right now.
"It's kind of a perfect storm, just everything's kind of off. Talking to Willy (Contreras) afterward, just not quite right. It's just not me. I've got to simplify my mental approach and just get back to attacking at the bottom of the zone."
Hendricks will finish April with a 1-3 record and 7.54 ERA. And he's not even the worst performing Cubs starter. That title belongs to Zach Davies with a 9.47 ERA.
Of course, pitchers can't take all the blame. The Cubs managed just 5 hits and this was the third time in four games they've been shut out.
The highlight of this night for the visitors was Anthony Rizzo striking out his good pal Freddie Freeman in the bottom of the seventh. Freeman seemed to get a good laugh out of it as well.
"I was on the on-deck circle and I have a straight shot to Freddie (playing first base) and I was kind of loosening my arm up and I go, 'I want you,' pointing at him," Rizzo said. "It was fun. When Rossy asked if I wanted to pitch, obviously I'm not going to blow it out and hurt myself by any means.
"I had to pitch around (Ronald) Acuna there. Freddie was hot 4-for-4, but at the end of the day, it's 4-for-5 with a punch out. It helped lighten the mood here."
Rizzo faced three batters, then Matt Duffy finished the inning and Eric Sogard pitched the eighth. The three position players combined to throw two scoreless innings, so maybe they should be candidates for the Cubs' starting rotation.
"When you have a night like tonight, you try to just take a mental break, enjoy it," manager David Ross said. "That was a nice moment for Rizz. He told me he wanted to face Freddie, so we let him do that. So that was able to lighten the mood a little bit. You try to lighten the mood for a minute and then get back to work tomorrow and try to win a baseball game. These guys are working extremely hard."
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