MLB LOOK AHEAD

Cubs, Reds still seeking improvement, momentum

Field Level Media

May 13, 2019 at 10:16 pm.

The Chicago Cubs haven’t lost a series since dropping the first three of the season.

The Cincinnati Reds are 17-15 since a 1-8 start.

Both teams will try to continue their improved play over the past five weeks when they open a three-game series in Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

Tanner Roark is scheduled to start the series opener for the Reds and he’ll be aiming to win his third straight start.

Kyle Hendricks is set to start for the Cubs and hasn’t allowed an earned run in his past two outings.

Roark (3-1, 3.27) shut out the Oakland A’s on three hits over six innings in a 3-0 win on Thursday.

He told reporters afterward that he’s been trying to quicken his pace in recent games and likes the results so far. He has allowed two runs and seven hits in his past 12 2/3 innings.

“Working quicker and getting the sign and going has helped out a lot,” he said. “Just being more effective in the strike zone and not unintentionally wasting pitches.”

Roark has also been pleased with the defense behind him. The Reds come into this series with the fifth-best fielding percentage in the National League (.987) and tied for the third-fewest errors in the NL (19).

“It definitely helps out, confidence-wise, that you know that they’re there and they have your back,” Roark said. “It’s the same when those guys make an error. It’s not like they’re trying to do it. As pitchers, we’ve got to have their backs, make them feel good and get that next guy out.”

Roark last faced the Cubs on Aug. 11, when he gave up two runs and nine hits in 7 2/3 innings of a 9-4 win in Chicago. Roark won five straight starts during that stretch.

Chicago right fielder Jason Heyward is 0-for-20 in his career off Roark, and he’s 4-for-39 in the past 10 games, but several teammates have been picking up the slack.

Kris Bryant is 12-for-34 in the past 10 games with five home runs and 12 RBIs. He has reached base safely in a career-high 22 straight games.

Javier Baez has an 11-game hitting streak to tie his career high. He’s hitting .378 in that span with seven doubles and two home runs.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo took a day off Sunday for the first time this season because his back felt tight after the Cubs’ 15-inning win against the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday. The Cubs were off Monday, giving Rizzo two days’ rest heading into the series in Cincinnati.

Roark has made eight appearances (seven starts) in his career against the Cubs and he’s 5-2 with a 3.77 ERA.

Hendricks (2-4, 3.19 ERA) threw a complete-game shutout on 81 pitches in a 4-0 win against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on May 3, and then allowed one unearned run in eight innings in a no-decision outing Wednesday against the visiting Miami Marlins.

He was denied the win against Miami when the Marlins tied the score in the ninth before the Cubs won 3-2 win in 11 innings.

“Similar in a lot of ways,” Hendricks said of his past two starts. “At least the mindset.”

Hendricks is 5-2 in his career against the Reds with a 3.45 ERA. He last faced them on Aug. 26, throwing seven shutout innings in the 9-0 win in Chicago.