Game Recap: Mets avoid sweet despite Hendricks' return
Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports

Game Recap: Mets avoid sweet despite Hendricks' return

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - After nearly a year away from the mound due to a shoulder injury, Professor Kyle Hendricks made his much-awaited season debut in front of the home crowd at Wrigley Field. Over the past month plus, Hendricks has been rehabbing in Iowa, where his results improved with each start.

Facing off against a struggling New York Mets (26-25) team, the Chicago Cubs (22-27) were looking for their first series sweep since their sweep at Oakland in late April. He expected to go through some struggles in his first start, Hendricks didn't pitch great, but he wasn't terrible either.

The right-hander pitched into the fifth inning before he was removed after 4 1/3 innings.

That isn't a horrible line, but when Carlos Carrasco has the kind of game he had on Thursday, wins will not be easy to come by.

“It's been a long road back for him,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “It just feels like things are back to normal, just seeing him around.”

Hendricks allowed five runs, but only three were earned as he struck out five in his first start.

“It was just so fulfilling to finally get back out there on that field,” Hendricks said, “To see the fans, run out on the field with my teammates, just the little things. I took it all in, really. You don’t take that for granted.”

Coming off his own injuries, Carrasco pitched into the seventh inning and allowed just one run on four hits across 6 2/3 frames. This was his best start of the season as the Mets offense took care of the rest in a 10-1 win over the Cubs. You could see the early game nerves for Hendricks as Brandon Nimmo led off the game with a single before a pair of walks loaded the bases with no outs.

What could have been a disastrous inning turned into an inning with minor damage as the Brett Baty sacrifice fly gave the Mets an early 1-0 lead. For the Cubs, it didn't take long for them to battle back as their lone run of the game came in the bottom of the first, with Dansby Swanson driving one over the left field fence.

From there, it was all New York as they ended the game with nine unanswered runs to avoid the sweep.

Three of those nine runs came in the fourth, with the Mets finally starting to do damage off of Hendricks. After tossing a scoreless second and retiring the first two to begin the third, Hendricks ran into serious trouble as three consecutive singles put the Mets back in front with a big inning not out of the question.

Baty put the Mets in front for good, 2-1, with his single, but the Starlin Marte single gave the Mets an even bigger cushion as they now led 4-1. With a chance to come back, or at least keep things interesting, it was the Cub's turn to put the pressure on Carrasco, and that they did.

Singles from Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ helped set the table with a walk to Seiya Suzuki to load the bases. Unfortunately, the Cub's lack of clutch hitting hurt them again, as they were unable to score and still trailed by three. The Mets continued to add on in the fifth, with Jeff McNeil reaching on a one-out single and advancing to second on a hit-by-pitch. That was it for Hendricks as he was lifted for left-hander Brandon Hughes.

The first hitter Hughes faced saw McNeil steal third and then race home on a rare throwing error for Gomes as the Mets added to their lead 5-1. They maintained that lead into the seventh when Michael Rucker took over and suffered his worst showing of the season. Not only did he allow a two-run shot to Pete Alonso in the seventh to put the Mets in front 7-1, but he allowed three more runs in the eighth as his ERA rose to nearly 6.00 in the process.

With Daniel Vogelbach starting the eighth with a single and advancing to third on the Francisco Alvarez double, it was the Nimmo triple as the big hit in that inning with the Mets pushing the lead to 9-1. Francisco Lindor capped off the scoring for the Mets later in the inning as his RBI single scored Nimmo before Javier Assad came in to finish the inning and got out of it without further damage.

In desperate need of some late-game magic, the magic was nowhere to be found as Tommy Hunter worked around a Suzuki single, and Mike Tauchman walked to keep the Cubs off the board before retiring them in order in the ninth and finishing off the series finale victory for the Mets.

The Cubs had six hits in the ball game, with Suzuki leading the way with two.

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