Hendricks, core lead Cubs to second-half-opening win in Arizona
Prior to Friday night’s game, David Ross chose to look at the opening that presented itself in the aftermath of Joc Pederson’s trade to Atlanta.
“When things like that happen in baseball it gives an opportunity for a guy like Ian Happ to step up or Raffy Ortega or Jake Marisnick [or] another outfielder to even have a chance to be better than Joc was for us,” Ross said. “I mean, I really believe that. There [are] guys that could step up and have good seasons.”
Friday night, though, it was about the Cubs’ longtime core proving they can step up, too. Home runs from Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward backed up a quality start from Kyle Hendricks as they opened the second half of the season with a 5-1 win over the Diamondbacks.
“There’s a real positive that can be taken from the core group and what they’ve created and the expectations,” Ross said. “Those guys have created championship expectations here. I think that’s a positive. That’s something that they can wear as a badge of honor and pride.”
The Cubs backed up those expectations on Friday night turning out a performance that was reminiscent of their outings during their strong May. Strong starting pitching from Hendricks, clutch hits from Rizzo, Patrick Wisdom and Heyward and a lockdown performance from the bullpen trio of Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel.
“There’s too many baseball games left in the season to focus on one guy’s absence,” Ross said. “We started this run of our best baseball when Joc got hurt. There’s some optimism in there for me at least.
“There’s a lot of talent on that field right now, so we’re gonna focus on the Arizona Diamondbacks and today.”
Jake Arrieta is eligible to come off the injured list on Saturday, but Ross said he won’t be activated on Saturday.
“He’s working on some stuff just in the bullpen,” Ross said. “Just get him some confidence going into that. Make sure the hamstring’s good and then get him off and let him compete and make sure he can execute the things that he’s trying to do in real competition.”
Matt Duffy, who is on the 60-day IL and eligible to come off on Thursday, played 7 innings in Iowa on Thursday night, going 1-for-4 with a single. He had the day off on Friday and will play Saturday, provided his recovery goes well.
“Just trying to build him up in the right way, but all signs have been pointing to good feedback and he feels great,” Ross said.