Cubs — .500 and ace-less — are going to Cleveland! OK, so it sounded better in 2016
This You Gotta See: Cubs-Indians, White Sox-Twins, the end of the line for the Blackhawks and Bulls and — here already? — season openers for the Sky and Red Stars.
Starter Kyle Hendricks had some weirdly bad luck Sunday in a 6-5 loss to the Pirates that stopped a Cubs winning streak at five games. One softly hit ball after another fell in for a hit. By the time a dazed Hendricks staggered off the mound after the top of the first — his team already down four runs — it was back to the drawing board for a supposed ace gone bad.
Opponents are hitting .320 off the fastidious right-hander, for whom lugging around a 6.23 ERA must be both stressful and unconscionable.
If Hendricks were a real professor, colleagues would be urging him to take a sabbatical.
The .500 Cubs are going nowhere without Hendricks at his best, but were they really going anywhere regardless? Right now, Adbert Alzolay might be their best starter. If not Alzolay, it’s Jake Arrieta, who is far from the Arrieta of old. It’s certainly not Trevor Williams or fellow newcomer Zach Davies, who was very effective in his last start but also weirdly lucky — the Pirates didn’t score off him, but they swung and missed a grand total of once.
Indeed, this is an ace-less team. And that means not that a teardown is coming, given the Cubs’ tenuous relationships with Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo. It means the teardown has already started. A five-game winning streak hardly changes that.
On that cheerful note, here’s what’s happening:
Wizards at Hawks (6:30 p.m., NBATV)
Bradley Beal, who rolls out of bed scoring 30, won’t play (strained left hamstring), but Russell Westbrook is an automatic triple-double, and the soaring Wizards are hotter than all get-out. Daniel Gafford sure has found himself one heck of a supporting cast.
Stars at Blackhawks (7 p.m., NBCSN, NBCSCH)
It’s a wrap after this one, the season finale. No playoffs for the young Hawks, who at least kept things halfway interesting. Stay tuned after the game for the participation-trophy ceremony.
Jazz at Warriors (9 p.m., NBATV)
Soon-to-be scoring champ Steph Curry is taking the one-man-gang thing where few have taken it before. Serious question: Has anyone else since Michael Jordan been as fun to watch?
Cubs at Indians (5:10 p.m., Marquee)
The Cubs open a two-game set at the site of their greatest glory. Let’s face it, we should squeeze in all the 2016 references we can while Bryant, Baez and Rizzo are still around.
Nets at Bulls (7 p.m., NBCSCH)
Is this where the Bulls’ play-in hopes meet the end? Rookie Patrick Williams gets to stick Kevin Durant, which figures to be about as easy as putting lipstick on a giraffe.
Twins at White Sox (7:10 p.m., NBCSCH)
AL Central roundup: The Indians are a hilariously inept offensive team, the Royals are pretenders, the Tigers are the Tigers and the Twins — weren’t they supposed to be good? — keep inventing new ways to lose. Might as well kick ’em while they’re down.
Twins at White Sox (1:10 p.m., NBCSCH)
That sound you hear is Nick Madrigal putting the bat on the baseball, undoubtedly with two strikes. Oh, and the other sound? That’s Tony La Russa riffling through the rulebook, but we can talk about that later.
Fire at D.C. United (7 p.m., Ch. 9)
The Fire are off to an 0-3-1 start. Other than that, they’ve been crushing it.
Royals at White Sox (2:10 p.m., 7:10 p.m., NBCSCH)
Not one but two chances to whack away at these Kansas City pitchers? That’s like finding a second pinata on Cinco de Mayo.
Cubs at Tigers (6:10 p.m., Marquee)
If all goes well, this is when Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ return to action. If not, it’ll be yet another game with a patchwork lineup — or as baseball insiders call it, “Tigering.”
Sky at Mystics (noon, Ch. 7)
What a treat it’ll be to watch Candace Parker in a Sky uniform. If only she could’ve come home before her 14th WNBA season, but, you know, better late than never.
Aces at Storm (2 p.m., Ch. 7)
Champion Seattle opens against 2020 MVP A’ja Wilson and Las Vegas, last season’s runner-up.
Cubs at Tigers (3:10 p.m., Marquee)
It’s 420 feet to the wall in dead center at Comerica Park, not quite as far as it was at Tiger Stadium but still a mighty long stretch. As many bombs as these two pitching staffs give up, though, no wall is safe.
FCS title game: Sam Houston State vs. South Dakota State (1 p.m., Ch. 7)
It’s the No. 2 Bearkats against the No. 1 Jackrabbits in Frisco, Texas, for all the marbles. In related news, a 24-team football playoff still beats the heck out of a four-team football playoff.
Red Stars at Portland (6 p.m., Twitch)
Hopes are high for the Red Stars, but getting the league-favorite Thorns on their home turf to open the season is one tough assignment.
Bucks at Bulls (TBD, NBCSCH)
The regular season ends here, which almost certainly means the end of the line for the Bulls. Sorry, you’ll just have to get by on Denzel Valentine highlight videos from here.