Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks feeling ill, scratched amid team COVID-19 scare

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — With the team facing a COVID-19 scare, Chicago Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks was scratched from his scheduled start after the right-hander indicated he wasn’t feeling well.

The Cubs didn’t provide specifics about Hendricks’ health, saying only the move was made from “an abundance of caution.”

Four Cubs were added to the COVID-19 injured list over the last two days.

Cubs manager David Ross said before the game with the Milwaukee Brewers that none of his players have tested positive for the coronavirus. Infielder Matt Duffy went on the virus-related injured list one day after the Cubs put relievers Brandon Workman, Jason Adam and Dan Winkler on the list.

Bullpen coach Chris Young and first base coach Craig Driver have tested positive.

“We still do not have any players on the positive COVID list,” Ross said. “I would tell you right now with protocols and being extra cautious, if you have a headache, if you have a runny nose, if you have body aches, if you have just about anything going on that would or could be one of the 10 COVID symptoms, we’re going to err on the side of caution.”

Alec Mills replaced Hendricks as the Cubs’ starting pitcher. Mills threw a no-hitter at Milwaukee in the Cubs’ 12-0 victory over the Brewers on Sept. 13 of last season.

Ross said Driver was in the three-week waiting period between vaccination doses and that Young already had received both shots when they tested positive.

“It’s two weeks after you get the second shot that you’re fully vaccinated,” Ross said. “That would have been Sunday. Chances are (Young) contacted the COVID before Sunday.”

Ross said Driver and Young gave him permission to reveal those details. Ross noted both coaches also were diligent about wearing masks.

“They don’t want to scare anybody,” Ross said. “They think the fact they’ve had the shot is actually a positive and would recommend everybody to get the shot. CY feels completely fine. I think they think the reason why they feel as good as they do is because they’ve had some version of the shot.”

Ross added that “we are taking this seriously” and that “we are trying to get everybody as vaccinated as we possibly can.”

The Cubs filled Duffy’s spot on the roster by adding infielder Ildemaro Vargas from the organization’s alternate site in South Bend, Indiana. Chad Noble, who normally is the Cubs’ bullpen catcher, is handling the bullpen coach responsibilities.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.