ST. LOUIS If the Cubs hadn’t been sellers for days on the trade deadline and closer to the top of the National League Central, there could have been more focus on what Kyle Hendricks did on the mound.
But regardless of the Cubs’ deadline plans and shift in their season, Hendricks still has one of the best pieces in baseball.
Hendricks left Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals trailing by one run, but his teammates saved him and gathered in the ninth inning for the second night in a row. However, the Cardinals won 3-2 in 10 innings off Yadier Molinas single off Craig Kimbrel who scored Paul Goldschmidt, who was placed on second base.
The Cubs’ attack didn’t start and went into the ninth 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. But with two outs, second baseman Nico Hoerner was hit by a pitch to put a runner on and keep the Cubs’ hopes alive.
Pinch hitter Eric Sogard, followed by an RBI-double into the rightfield hole, scored Hoerner to make it a 2nd game.
That brought Hendricks off the hook for the loss, extending his current hot streak. In his previous 13 starts, Hendricks was 10-0 with a 2.66 ERA. He also had good starts in 13 of his previous 15 games.
While not earning his MLB-leading 13th win, Hendricks finished off another strong start, giving up two runs and eight hits in 6 innings. The Cardinals joined him in the seventh inning and scored a few runs before he was eliminated from the game.
In a starting rotation that was anything but consistent, Hendricks was not only the stabilizing leader the Cubs hoped he would be this season, but in many ways he was even better.
The Ace continued his streak of success against the Cardinals on Wednesday, doing what he does best: giving the Cubs a chance to win a game.
Kyle is definitely a leader in [every] sense of the word, said manager David Ross before the game. His personality is an advantage in baseball in so many ways, because of the ups and downs of the season, the different things that come with a baseball season. He’s the same guy in the clubhouse and the same guy in the dugout. He works hard, he is prepared, but he is also just a stable personality.
In a fight with longtime Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, Hendricks put in another great performance in an old-fashioned pitching duel.
The righthander rolled through the first four innings, giving up two hits while causing a lot of weak contact. He retired five of his first nine outs in the game on grounders.
Hendricks was able to avoid getting into bad situations and limit the damage, and he did it again.
He got stuck in the fifth inning when he allowed back-to-back singles from Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader to put runners on the corners with one out.
But he didn’t let the traffic stop him. After taking the second out of the inning on a sacrifice bunt by Wainwright, Hendricks struck out Dylan Carlson to end the inning.
What was one of the most impressive parts of Hendrick’s three-month success was the way he did it.
Throughout his eight-year career in the Major League, Hendricks modeled pitch mixing. As he did on his run, the Cubs righthander feels like he’s on a different level.
I said to him: I’m pretty grateful for what he gives us every fifth day, Ross said before the game. I think he wants to go deeper into games. I don’t think he wants to give up. All the greats I’ve been around, they don’t want to give up a hit.
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