Chicago Cubs Score and Recap (9/22/21): Cubs 4, Twins 5 – Kepler Goes Yard Twice, 9th Inning Rally Falls Short

After dropping Tuesday night’s opener against the Twins by a score of 9-5, the Cubs had Kyle Hendricks on the bump in the series finale. The righty hadn’t won in his last five starts and was looking to bounce back from a seven-run shellacking by Philadelphia on September 16 that had many wondering whether he’d be shut down early.

While Hendricks’s performance was certainly an improvement over last Thursday, he served up home runs to Max Kepler in the 1st and 4th innings. Meanwhile, the Northsiders were unable to mount much offense against Hendricks’s counterpart Joe Ryan, who struck out 11 batters. After tying the game in the 2nd inning, they would not score again until a failed 9th inning comeback against veteran closer Alex Colomé. (Box score)

Why the Cubs Lost

The Cubs struck out 18 times in the game and were unable to solve the eternal riddle of the rookie pitcher. Ryan struck out the side three times during his five innings of work.

Key Moment

Nick Gordon doubled to lead off the 9th inning against Codi Heuer, stole third base, and scored an insurance run on a sacrifice fly by Andrelton Simmons. This gave the Twins a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the inning.

Willson Contreras replaced Austin Romine as a pinch hitter with one run in and one out in the 9th inning. After runners advanced to second and third on a double steal, Contreras hit a chopper fielded by 3rd baseman Josh Donaldson. When Donaldson’s throw across the diamond sailed high, 1st baseman Miguel Sanó pulled the ball down to tag Contreras, who was called out at first.

One run scored on the play, but it also gave the Cubs two outs. Nico Hoerner‘s single advanced the tying run to third base, but Trayce Thompson struck out to end the game.

Stats that Matter

  • The 31 home runs allowed by The Professor in 2021 are the most of his career by a significant margin.
  • Ryan’s 11 strikeouts are a season and career-high for the Twins rookie.
  • Kepler finished the night 3-for-4 with two home runs, three runs scored, and three RBI.
  • Tyler Duffey won the Battle of Names, striking out Matt Duffy in the 7th inning.

Bottom Line

After dropping both games against Minnesota, the Cubs will host a red-hot St. Louis Cardinals team that has won 11 straight.

On Deck

The final Wrigley series of the year starts with a double-header on Friday. Game 1 will be at 1:20pm CT with Illinois-born J.A. Happ (9-8, 6.02 ERA) is scheduled to face Justin Steele (3-3, 4.20 ERA. Game 2 at 7:05pm pits Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty (9-2, 3.08 ERA) against Zach Davies (6-11, 5.49 ERA). You can listen on 670 The Score or watch on Marquee Sports Network, and the matinee will be available on ESPN for out-of-market fans.

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