The Cubs snapped their recent five game losing streak with a 1-0 win Tuesday night vs. the Mets at Citi Field thanks in large part to Kyle Hendricks’ six strong innings of three-hit ball, a lights-out bullpen, and some Maddon “Magic”. Hendricks bounced back from his three game slump to keep the Mets at bay all evening; never allowing a runner past second base and striking out six.
“Today was much better as far as mentally,” Hendricks said, “just focusing, making every single pitch.”
The Cubs bullpen backed him tremendously with Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, and Jason Motte each pitching an inning of no-hit, no-walk ball for the Cubs to claim their first win in a week. Unfortunately, the Cubs continue to struggle to produce runs as they have scored just seven runs total in their last six games, while going 4 for 37 with RISP until Tuesday night. Luckily, they were still able to out-duel the Mets who have struggled even worse than the Cubs have to hit and score; producing the winning run on a Matt Sczcur sixth-inning, two-out double to deep left center that enabled Kris Bryant to cross the plate.
“A 1-0 win is always pretty spectacular, but we still have to do a better job offensively,” Cubs skipper Joe Maddon said. “I know they’re saying the same thing on the other side.”
Spectacular is one way to put it; magical is another. After a tough weekend in St. Louis, Maddon decided that the Cubs needed a positive distraction to loosen them up a bit and forget about their losing streak. He brought in a magician to perform for the team before the game, a tactic that harkens back to his days in Tampa where he was known for such unconventional, psychological exercises. The intent was to take the pressure off his team and for a night, it worked.
“Just trying to lighten things up a little bit,” Maddon said. “We’re always trying to create some magic around here, so why not bring a magician in?”
Correlating the win with the pregame stunt is a fool’s errand as such things are hardly quantifiable, but in speaking with players, the guys who go out and make it happen, they found Maddon’s trick to be humorous as well as helpful. Whose to say that ploys such as these, however silly and small, don’t make a difference for guys looking to bounce back from adversity?
“I just felt more comfortable and, I’m sure the guys felt the same, because he kind of tones it down a little bit, lets you relax,” Matt Szczur said about Maddon. “It was a fun time.”
Fun times are what Cubs fans are looking for and they got a taste of it last week. Maybe this week the Cubs will work a little magic of their own.
Jon Lester takes on Bartolo Colon at 6:10PM CST tonight.
Let’s Go Cubs!