The Cubs ran into an absolute buzzsaw Friday in the form of the MLB-best Braves. Atlanta threw a shutout and exploded for a seven-run inning to put the game on ice.
Max Fried and Kyle Hendricks were both very sharp early and neither team got a baserunner through the first three innings. Unfortunately for the Cubs, it was a much different story for the Braves the second time through the lineup.
Hendricks got rocked for seven runs in the top of the 4th inning. The big blows were back-to-back home runs from Sean Murphy and Marcell Ozuna, followed by a triple from Ronald Acuña Jr., his second hit of the frame.
The rest of the afternoon was academic with Fried breezing into the 6th inning in his first start in three months. Hayden Wesneski pitched mop-up duty in the middle frames and Tucker Barnhart got another appearance on the mound in the 9th. (Box score)
The Braves demonstrated in a single inning why their offense is so terrifying. Every single hitter in their lineup is a potential extra-base threat. If an opposing pitcher slips even a little bit, he will get creamed. Hendricks had one of those slips and paid for it.
Why the Cubs Lost
They faced a great team that was feeling it and it is very hard to beat the Braves when they are playing well.
Stats That Matter
- Literally all of the damage against Hendricks occurred in the 4th: 4 IP, 7 R, 8 H, 3 K, and 0 BB.
- Cody Bellinger had two of the Cubs’ four hits on Friday.
A blowout loss is a lot less fun than a blowout win. Realistically, Chicago is trying to avoid getting swept in this series. It’s not a commentary on the Cubs, it’s just how good this Braves team is. They are prohibitive World Series favorites at this point and it’s just something you have to survive when you are an opponent.