Kyle Hendricks twirls a gem as Cubs hold on for tight victory
Kyle Hendricks is rounding into form at exactly the right time for the 2020 Cubs.
“The Professor” twirled a masterpiece Friday night at Wrigley Field as the Cubs narrowly hung on to beat the Twins 1-0 for their 5th straight victory.
Hendricks struck out a season-high 10 batters in 8 shutout innings, walking 1 and giving up 3 singles. He is now 6-4 with a 2.93 ERA and 0.99 WHIP on the season.
After the 30-year-old right-hander spun a complete game shutout on Opening Day, he hit a bit of a midseason lull, but he is locked in once again.
Over his last 4 starts, Hendricks has a 1.21 ERA, 0.84 WHIP and 27 strikeouts against only 4 walks. More importantly, the Cubs are 4-0 in that stretch.
“This is the goal, obviously,” Hendricks said of his current stretch. “I think the key was that mentally, it was locked in on the glove, working pitch-to-pitch, not getting too quick. I’ve been trying to get back to really locking in on the glove and fastball command because about 4 starts ago, it wasn’t good.
“So yeah, it’s been getting better and better each start the last 3 or so. And today it was really good, so I just gotta keep working on the things I’ve been doing and stick with that fastball command, stick with my offspeed pitches and just trying to stay right there.”
Hendricks’ recent performance is huge for the Cubs with the playoffs less than two weeks away.
“Yeah, we’re gonna rely on Kyle,” David Ross said. “I don’t think there’s any secret about that. He’s one of our horses, man. This guy is as good as it gets for me. It’s just fun to be his manager, fun to watch him take the ball every fifth day and look out there and know that you can let him kind of have the night sometimes. That’s not the case with everybody. … I have a ton of confidence in him.”
The Cubs gave him the only offense he needed in the 1st inning Friday night, as the first 3 batters reached. Anthony Rizzo walked (and then stole second base), Kris Bryant walked and then Willson Contreras knocked Rizzo home with a single to right-center.
Ross was very complimentary of the game Contreras played behind the plate, working with Hendricks and adding a bunt single and a walk to his 1st-inning RBI knock.
“Great job by Willson as well,” Ross said. “Getting the only RBI, nice job throwing out the runner trying to steal, did a good job blocking a lot of balls back behind the plate tonight in some big situations. I thought Willy did a really well-rounded job for him. That bunt base hit, putting that in other teams’ scouting report is always nice.”
Jeremy Jeffress came on to pitch the 9th inning and secured his 8th save of the campaign.
The Cubs are now a season-best 11 games over .500 at 31-20 overall. They maintained a 5.5-game lead over the Cardinals and Reds in the NL Central race.