Game 2 of the National League Division Series may not have gone as planned for the Chicago Cubs, but they earned a 5-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants and took a commanding 2-0 series lead Saturday at Wrigley Field. 

Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks caused mass panic in Chicago when he exited in the top of the fourth inning after taking a line drive to his right (pitching) arm off the bat of Angel Pagan. 

Carrie Muskat of reported Hendricks left with a right forearm contusion and was being evaluated. He led Major League Baseball with a 2.13 ERA and finished second with a 0.98 WHIP during the regular season. 

The Cubs could have an issue if Hendricks has to miss a start, though the good news is the team announced his X-rays came back negative.

Jon Lester was brilliant with eight scoreless innings in Game 1, but Game 3 starter Jake Arrieta struggled with a 3.69 ERA in the second half. Expected Game 4 starter John Lackey had a 2.76 ERA in the second half, though he only started 11 games due to injuries. 

Prior to leaving, Hendricks was having an outing to remember in an unexpected way with this two-run single in the second inning, as MLB Network showed:

Travis Wood relieved Hendricks with two outs in the fourth inning, and he struck out Conor Gillaspie to end the top half of the frame. Wood came up to bat in the bottom half of the inning and proceeded to hit a homer deep into the left field bleachers. 

Per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, home runs for relief pitchers in the postseason have become extremely rare:

Per Muskat, it hasn’t been quite as long since the Cubs have had a pitcher—starter or reliever—hit a home run in a playoff game:

At that point, Cubs pitchers accounted for three of the team’s five RBI.

The Giants were in a huge hole early because Jeff Samardzija’s first career playoff start did not go well for San Francisco. He gave up four runs in the first two innings and was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the third. 

Per’s Mark Saxon, Samardzija’s two-inning start marked the shortest of his MLB career. Stark noted the Shark struggled against winning teams in 2016:

Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, going into a 4-0 hole against Hendricks has not been a recipe for success in 2016:

Regardless of who is pitching, getting a four-run lead has been virtually an automatic win for the Cubs this season, per Baseball Tonight:

Before Hendricks was forced out, the Giants chipped away at the lead thanks to Gregor Blanco’s RBI double, which scored Joe Panik, and Brandon Belt’s sacrifice fly, which scored Blanco to make it 4-2. 

The bad news for the Giants is that was all their offense could muster.

Wood, Carl Edwards Jr., Mike Montgomery, Hector Rondon and Aroldis Chapman combined for 5.1 scoreless innings in which they allowed just two hits with no walks and six strikeouts. 

Another problem facing the Giants as they head back home for Game 3 on Monday is they aren’t taking advantage of holding the heart of Chicago’s lineup (Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell) to a combined 1-for-21 in the first two games. 

There is one bright spot for San Francisco even with this hole to climb out of: Madison Bumgarner. The Giants ace will take the mound at home, trying to keep his team alive. 

In case you haven’t heard, Bumgarner is pretty good in these do-or-die situations. His last run allowed in the playoffs was a solo homer by Salvador Perez the seventh inning of Game 1 of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals. 

Bumgarner has gone 23 straight scoreless innings in the postseason since, including a complete-game shutout against the New York Mets in the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday. 

The Cubs have looked every bit the best team in baseball they were during the regular season through two games. They got great pitching in Game 1 from Lester, and the offense came to life early in Game 2 before the bullpen took over. 

Even though the even-year magic may have helped carry the Giants this far, even with Bumgarner going Monday, they will need a lot of help to bring this series back to Chicago for a potential Game 5. 


Postgame Reaction

After the game, Hendricks’ arm was one of the biggest discussion points. He seemed optimistic about this being a short-term issue, per Muskat and Chris Haft of

When it first hit me, I didn’t really feel it in the moment. I just tried to recover and make the play. Once I started throwing off the mound, it just started tightening up on me. The X-rays were negative though, so hopefully it’s just a day-to-day thing. I’ll see how I feel over the next couple days.

From one difficult moment to another, Giants manager Bruce Bochy is using his team’s recent history of October success as a motivating factor going back home.

“It’s tough to lose two here, but it’s a case that we have been down this road before,” Bochy said, per Muskat and Haft. “It’s never easy with us, so we’re hoping to get one here, but now we go home and you keep fighting. That’s all you can do.”

There isn’t any way to sugarcoat where things stand for the Giants. All they can do is hope history is able to repeat itself starting Monday. 

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