Regardless of the uniqueness and obstacles associated with the condensed 2020 season, the Chicago Cubs are handling things pretty well.
Winners in 11 of their first 14 games, the Cubs look to sweep a brief two-game series against the host Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night.
Chicago has been one of the best teams on baseball's young season, and an unintended break in the action didn't keep the club from continuing its early success.
After last weekend's series in St. Louis was postponed due to the Cardinals' continued issues with COVID-19, the Cubs didn't look rusty during a 7-1 victory over Cleveland on Tuesday -- their first game in five days.
Jon Lester allowed one run over six innings and Jason Heyward had three hits and four RBIs, highlighted by a three-run homer during Chicago's five-run sixth inning. Ian Happ posted two hits to raise his average to .325.
"It's a good start back for us and having to lock it in right away against a really good team," first-year manager David Ross said, according to the Cubs' official website.
Chicago is averaging just over five runs per game. And, at least for one night, the Cubs got the best of a Cleveland club whose pitchers entered Tuesday's contest with a 2.04 ERA while holding opponents to a .188 batting average.
While the Cubs look for another big offensive night, they should face a challenge against scheduled Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (2-1, 2.50 ERA). The right-hander is coming off a solid start, when he allowed one hit, struck out eight and overcome four walks to last six innings during a 13-0 win over Cincinnati on Thursday.
Opponents are batting just .188 against Carrasco this season, and he has struck out 23 over 18 innings.
"It was the slider that was key (against Cincinnati)," Carrasco said. "It started with my fastball, too. And went off of my slider."
Carrasco has never faced the Cubs, who turn to Kyle Hendricks (2-1, 3.54 ERA) on Wednesday. The right-hander bounced back from a rough outing at Cincinnati, where he was charged with six runs in 4 1/3 innings on July 29, by giving up two runs over seven innings of a 5-4 win against Kansas City on Aug. 4.
This will be the first time Hendricks has faced the Indians since starting the historic Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. During the series, Hendricks posted a 1.00 ERA through nine innings without earning a decision in two starts.
Cleveland stars Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez went a combined 5-for-8 against Hendricks in the Fall Classic. However, even though the Indians had won five of six entering Tuesday's contest, they are hitting just .192 as a team and slugging only .294.
One offensive bright spot for the Indians has been Franmil Reyes. The designated hitter had two more hits and drove in his team's lone run Tuesday, and he is 9-for-18 with six RBIs over the past five contests. Reyes is a .353 hitter lifetime against the Cubs.
On Tuesday, manager Terry Francona returned to the Indians' dugout for the first time since Aug. 1. He had been away due to a gastrointestinal issue.
--Field Level Media