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Kyle Hendricks feeling ‘more like myself’ in masterful outing

1 year agoTony Andracki

Kyle Hendricks hasn’t gotten off to the start he wanted to this season but he has certainly turned a corner of late.

After a complete game against the Dodgers two starts ago and a tough-luck outing against the Pirates last week, Hendricks was masterful against the Tigers Sunday afternoon in a 5-1 victory.

The Cubs ace was given an opportunity to finish what he started but David Ross ultimately pulled him after allowing back-to-back groundball singles to begin the 9th inning. It was exactly what the team needed after seven different relievers worked in Saturday’s 10th inning loss.

“Today’s performance was gigantic, to say the least,” Ross said. “The way we used the bullpen yesterday, to go extra innings and not come away with a win. These guys are grinding down there and a little short today. That’s why you do it — you bank on your top-of-the-rotation guys like Kyle to give you some length and that’s exactly what he did. He’s a true pro.”

Hendricks walked off the mound to a standing ovation from the Cubs fans in attendance at Comerica Park, finishing with 1 run on 8 hits allowed in 8 strong innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out 8.

He started out with a first pitch strike to 21 of the 30 batters he faced and notched 31 called strikes on the afternoon as his sinker and changeup danced all around the zone.

It looked like a classic Hendricks gem and he said it felt like it, too. After allowing 2 hits in the 1st inning, he settled into a groove.

“I’m still trying to do just a little too much from the start,” Hendricks said. “Just gotta trust it now, especially since the last few days I really felt more like myself. Finally feeling it out front, seeing the ball better. I just need to try and not do too much, just make my pitches and get through it.

“A little too anxious, a little too eager, jumping to the plate a little bit. So the adjustment was to breathe out there, take a few deep breaths, slow it down.”

Hendricks really started to feel locked in with his mechanics and delivery a couple days before Sunday’s start. He felt like he was kind of finding it earlier this month but the side session late last week gave him the desired angle on his fastball.

“Home plate felt like it was a little bit closer to me, not so far away,” he said. “So when I start getting that visual, I start to just trust my stuff so much more. It gives me more confidence coming out so it was a big turning point.”

Hendricks improved to 3-4 on the season and lowered his ERA to 5.27.

Ian Happ provided all the offense Hendricks needed with 3 hits, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored while — who else — Matt Duffy also had a pair of runs scored.

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