Manager David Ross decided to give struggling closer Craig Kimbrel another chance in the ninth inning Tuesday, with the Cubs holding a 5-2 lead over Kansas City. And again, it didn’t go well.
But the Cubs managed to hold on for a 5-4 victory at Wrigley Field, running their record to 9-2.
Salvador Perez led off with a single, then Kimbrel looked tough while striking out pinch-hitter Franchy Cordero. But Adalberto Mondesi did something that’s happened a lot since Kimbrel joined the Cubs: He made solid contact on a double to deep right field.
Ross brought in left-hander Kyle Ryan, who allowed both runners to score before Bubba Starling was retired on a hard ground ball to Kris Bryant at third, with the tying run on third base.
“Craig’s been making some strides in the bullpen,” Ross said. “I wanted to get him some work, hopefully with the lead. I continue to say we really need Craig Kimbrel to be a big part of this bullpen. We have to throw him. We have to get him innings and continue to kind of judge where he’s at.”
All of the Cubs’ offense was generated by home runs. Jason Heyward hit a two-run shot in the second, Jason Kipnis added a two-run blast in the fourth, and Willson Contreras knocked a solo shot in the eighth.
Kyle Hendricks delivered his usual strong outing at Wrigley. He gave up two runs in seven innings, with three strikeouts and no walks.
The coronavirus news out of St. Louis on Tuesday was that the Cardinals placed six players who tested positive on the injured list, including shortstop Paul DeJong from Antioch. The team also was cleared to travel back to St. Louis from Milwaukee, where it was scheduled to play last weekend, and hold workouts at Busch Stadium.
So there’s no official word on this weekend’s series against the Cubs, but it looks as if there’s a decent chance it will be played.
Before the game, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein held a Zoom call with reporters, where he touched on a number of topics.
On the St. Louis series: “We’re approaching it as if we’re going there to play,” Epstein said. “We have to prepare to go and we’ll just wait to hear a definitive work when it comes. Obviously, if they determine that those games should be played, it will come hand-in-hand with the determination that it’s safe for us.”
On whether MLB can finish the season: “In the end, no matter what measures are put in place, when you’re trying to pull off a season that requires travel in the middle of a global pandemic, it ultimately does come down to personal responsibility and everyone is at the mercy of the least-responsible person. Is personal responsibility enough? I don’t know. I think there are other safeguards you can put in place to sort of encourage that. The vast, vast majority of everyone involved in this enterprise are doing a solid job so far and making a lot sacrifices. We have to get everybody on board.”
On the Cubs’ fast start: “We can’t be patting ourselves on the back at all. There’s a tough road ahead. It’s nice to see some elements of the team come together. The energy of the group and the camaraderie of the group has really stood out. Our dugout’s alive every night and I think that reflects how much our guys are into the season.”
On first-time manager Ross: “The guy creates energy all by himself; he creates accountability. The players have so much respect for him that I think they want to do well for him. I think for a first-year manager, he’s been incredibly aware of all the little things that go into keeping a major league team functioning and humming along. Anticipating problems before they happen, having those extra conversations.”