Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel made a brief appearance in the Cubs’ 5-4 win over the Royals. But it was short-lived, as he continues to work through mechanical issues.
It had been four days since Kimbrel had last pitched in a game, as he worked behind the scenes.
Salvador Pérez was the first batter he faced. Pérez hit a ground-ball single into left field. Then Kimbrel struck out pinch hitter Franchy Cordero.
But the next batter, Adalberto Mondesi, hit a double off the right-field wall to put two runners on. With the tying run at the plate, Cubs manager David Ross pulled Kimbrel and replaced him with Kyle Ryan.
Both runners that Ryan inherited from Kimbrel scored. But then Bubba Starling hit a sharp ground ball up the third baseline. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant made the back-handed play to end the game and secure the win.
The closer remains a question for the Cubs.
Here are other takeaways from the game:
Hendricks finds rhythm
Hendricks saved the best for last on Tuesday. In the last two innings, he retired six batters in order and struck out two.
After setting the bar high on Opening Day, when he threw a complete game shutout, Hendricks hasn’t achieved that near-perfection again. But allowing just two runs in seven innings on Tuesday, Hendricks bounced back from his disappointing second start.
Hendricks started Tuesday with three quick outs. But then in the second inning, he gave up three hits in a row, starting with a double by Royals cleanup hitter Salvador Perez. But after a mound visit, Hendricks retired the next three batters.
He didn’t allow another extra-base hit. But in the fifth inning, with a pair of singles and a sacrifice fly, the Royals cut the Cubs’ lead to two runs.
The Jasons play long ball
The Cubs’ first four runs Tuesday came on two-run home runs, both hit by left-handed hitters named Jason: Jason Heyward and Jason Kipnis.
Heyward hit his in the second inning. The Cubs trailed the Royals by one run, and Heyward stepped up to the plate with Willson Contreras standing on first base.
Heyward fouled off two pitches before sending a slider sky-high. The go-ahead home run was Heyward’s first homer of the season.
Then, in the fourth inning, it was Kipnis’ turn. Heyward had singled earlier in the inning. With two outs, Kipnis knocked a fastball 423 feet, over the right-center field wall. The Cubs took a 4-1 lead.
All five of the Cubs’ runs came on homers. Contreras also contributed a solo shot in the eighth inning.
Where they stand
With the win, the Cubs improved to a 9-2 record. They still lead the National League.
The Cubs head to Kansas City for another pair of games against the Royals on Wednesday and Thursday.