Kyle Hendricks throws 8 strong to lead Cubs to series finale win over Cardinals
While losing four out of five to the Cardinals wouldn’t have been season-ending, David Ross knew the significance of a win on Monday.
“We wanna come outta here with more than one win,” Ross said before Monday’s game. “I think the main point we have to talk about is just making sure we get back to playing our brand of baseball and continue to have the good at-bats throughout the game, pitch better, run the bases better, good defense.”
That brand of baseball is exactly what they did.
The offense strung together 10 hits, scored 5 runs, showed patience at the plate and Kyle Hendricks twirled a gem as the Cubs salvaged the series finale 5-1.
“Defensively, I was really proud of the guys,” Ross said after the win. “We’ve kinda gone this year how our starting pitching’s gone, to be honest with you. That’s important for us.”
With the way Hendricks was dealing, the Cubs were able to go far Monday.
After playing four games in three days and using 11 different bullpen arms in those games, Hendricks gave the majority of his weary relievers a much-needed day off. Hendricks went 8 innings, allowing 1 run on 7 hits and striking out 4 to pick up the win. Rowan Wick came in for the 9th to close things out.
“In the back of your mind, you know the importance of the game, you know what we got coming up: no off days, so taxing the bullpen,” Hendricks said. “You have that in the back of your mind, but no, you can’t really pitch that way. Today much better mentally to start. [I] was aggressive. My timing felt better; fastball command was much better, which is the key. So, [Victor Caratini], he really made me establish the fastball early, which really helped everything.”
Hendricks’ lone earned run came on a Matt Wieters RBI-single in the 7th, escaping any jams with minimal damage. After that run-scoring single, he induced an inning-ending double play on Matt Carpenter. He induced to other double plays in the game and struck out Tommy Edman in the 3rd inning with runners on first and second.
“Those three double plays were huge,” Hendricks said. “Just everything kinda clicked today.”
The Cubs offense made sure to back up that stellar performance in the manner Ross spoke of. They were patient at the plate, forcing starter Johan Oviedo to throw 96 pitches and chasing him after 4.2 innings of work. It all started with potential-MVP candidate Ian Happ at the top of the lineup.
Happ continued his strong 2020, reaching base 4 times on a double and 3 walks. He led off the game with a double and scored on an Anthony Rizzo double play. Jason Kipnis continued his strong September, going 2-for-2 with a double, a run and an RBI.
Javy Báez went 3-for-4 with 3 singles, 2 of which were hustle plays on infield hits. Willson Contreras had a 2-run single in the 5th scoring Báez and Kyle Schwarber after the pair reached on errors.
“When we play as a team and we have this approach as a team, we can be very dangerous in the lineup,” Báez said.