How Yan Gomes played a crucial role in Kyle Hendricks’ gem in St. Louis
There’s just something about Kyle Hendricks when he faces the Cardinals. He showed that Friday night in St. Louis.
The righty threw arguably his second-best start of the year, twirling 7.1 shutout innings against St. Louis as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 3-0 in the series opener.
In 24 career starts against the Cardinals, Hendricks has a 2.69 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 9 seasons. On Friday, he allowed just 5 hits and a walk while striking out 6.
That all stemmed from his backstop, Yan Gomes.
“I really just committed to him and his game plan and he was really good feeling what they were doing tonight,” Hendricks told reporters in St. Louis. “It was huge.
“He just does such a good job of feeling a game plan and feeling what they were trying to do against me. It was nice tonight.”
The Cardinals were trying to be aggressive — and Gomes noticed that.
Gomes and Hendricks kept the St. Louis hitters off balance, mixing his changeup and fastball to the hitters and never letting them get comfortable in the box. Hendricks threw first pitch strikes to 14 of the 27 batters he faced and when the Cardinals were making contact, it was usually soft contact.
“I thought they popped a lot of fastballs up or rolled them over,” manager David Ross said. “The game was moving really quick for him early on.”
Early in the game, Hendricks was relying on the fastball, but as the Cardinals began to see him for a second or third time, he started mixing in his changeup, which really stymied the Cardinal hitters. The Cardinals had an average exit velocity of 80 mph on his changeup and he had 6 swings-and-misses on the pitch.
“I was throwing some good ones,” Hendricks said. “Even the bad ones, they were good shape, you know, so like I was using them to my advantage and Yan just kept calling it.”
That allowed Hendricks to have success — something that’s clearly been the norm when he faces St. Louis.
“That was as good as I’ve seen him this year,” Ross said. “Every time they thought a fastball was coming, throwing a changeup, keeping them off balance. Vintage Kyle. That was an impressive outing.”