Another Kyle Hendricks quality start propels Cubs to win over Cardinals
David Ross admitted Saturday that he has some luxury in how he uses his bullpen on the eve of a Kyle Hendricks start.
“It’s pretty evident that I manage different before his starts,” Ross said.
In those games, Ross hasn’t been afraid to pull the trigger to turn to his bullpen. That’s because he knows there’s a good chance that he’ll get some length out of his ace the next game.
In Saturday night’s 7-2 win over the Cardinals, Hendricks gave him that length, pitching 6 innings of 2-run ball and sparking the Cubs to a series win over the rival Cardinals.
In the five previous games before Hendricks’ starts, Cubs starters have pitched 6 innings or more, just once. Each time, Ross has turned to his pen to cover innings, because he knows the next day won’t be as taxing and he can likely give them some rest.
Hendricks kept that trend going on Saturday, as he allowed just 3 hits and kept the Cardinal hitters at bay.
“That’s a huge part of my focus is to consistently be going deep into ball games,” Hendricks said. “Today [I] threw 6, ideally you always wanna get through 7. You get through 6, the way our bullpen’s been going this year, it’s been lockdown there at the backend. We feel really confident about it with that formula.
The 2 runs he allowed came on a pair of solo home runs to Nolan Arenado and Paul DeJong. Hendricks escaped the only trouble he ran into in the 3rd inning. After the DeJong home run, he allowed a single to the pitcher Jake Woodford. He induced a lineout to Tommy Edman, then walked Dylan Carlson to put runners on first and second. Against Paul Goldschmidt, the Cardinals first baseman worked a full count before he flew out to Ian Happ in center.
“I didn’t wanna walk a guy, create more momentum for them, so I just kept telling myself make a good pitch,” Hendricks said. “Try to keep it down and away if I can. He’s still put a really good swing on it, luckily we just had a guy in the right spot there.”
That sparked Hendricks to go on and pitch 3 perfect innings before turning it over to the bullpen.
“I thought that’s the hardest inning he worked,” Ross said. “I thought that was a big part of the game. Him kind of holding it and kind of limiting the damage right there was really important.”
He induced plenty of weak contact, with only 8 hard-hit balls to end an at-bat and 6 of them resulted in outs.
With the win, the Cubs remained tied at first with the Brewers at 37-27, 5 games ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central. The Cubs are a season-high 10 games above .500.