The Chicago Cubs will look to continue their hit parade and win the series against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field on Sunday night.
The Cubs had 14 hits, including six home runs, in their 13-4 win over Atlanta on Saturday. The run output was their season high, and it was welcomed in the Chicago clubhouse.
After all, Chicago entered the game last in the majors in batting average (.166), on-base percentage (.267) slugging percentage (.307) and runners in scoring position (.084).
“It’s just a collective sigh of relief,” said infielder Kris Bryant, who hit two of the home runs. “We can feel good about this one for 24 hours until the next one. But, hopefully, we are able to use the success from (Saturday) and carry that confidence and that comfort forward.”
On the mound for the Cubs on Sunday will be right-hander Kyle Hendricks (0-1, 3.00 ERA), who last started on April 7 and earned a no-decision against the Milwaukee Brewers. He scattered four hits and a walk over six innings in the 4-2 loss.
In his career against the Braves, Hendricks is 1-1 (2.46) ERA in five games, four of them starts.
Hendricks missed a start earlier this week after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, manager David Ross said.
“He’s feeling much better,” Ross said Saturday. “Unless something changes, Kyle will pitch (Sunday) night.”
Saturday’s victory also saw the return of Ross, who served a one-game suspension during Friday’s 5-2 loss to the Braves. The suspension came after Cubs reliever Ryan Tepera, who was suspended three games, threw a pitch behind the legs of Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff. Chicago catcher Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch from Woodruff earlier in the Cubs’ 3-2 win at Milwaukee.
As of that game, Contreras had been hit by pitches three times in five games by the Brewers.
“I’m sure if we hit Christian Yelich as much as they’ve hit Willson Contreras, their guys would probably do the same thing,” Ross said, per The Athletic.
For the Braves, they will look to repeat what they did in the series opener. While the bats were quiet in Saturday’s loss, Atlanta’s nine hits on Friday were enough to keep the Cubs at bay. However, it came at a cost when outfielder Ender Inciarte and second baseman Ozzie Albies were injured during the game.
Inciarte was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring injury. Braves manager Brian Snitker said Albies will be day-to-day after being hit in the calf by a pitch.
To add to its injury woes, Atlanta has three starting pitchers — Max Fried (hamstring), Mike Soroka (shoulder) and Drew Smyly (forearm) — who will miss time. Their ray of light has been Ronald Acuna Jr., who leads the league in home runs (seven), hits (26), runs scored (20) and slugging percentage.
“I saw all spring he was getting to pitches that he hasn’t been able to get to, by just fouling them off,” Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer told The Athletic. “I don’t need balls to get crushed in tough quadrants of the strike zone, but to be able to at least foul them off and spoil them to give you another shot. He was able to do that this spring, and I was like, ‘Holy cow, this has got a chance to be fun.'”
On the mound for the Braves will be Bryse Wilson, who will make his season debut after being called up from the alternate site Saturday morning. He appeared in six games (two starts) for the Braves in 2020, posting a 1-0 record and a 4.02 ERA in 15 2/3 innings.
The right-hander has made one career start against the Cubs and has an 8.31 ERA with no decisions.
–Field Level Media