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The Cubs are back in the win column, thanks in large part to Kyle Hendricks

2 years agoTony Andracki

“It’s just been a really clean game tonight.”

Rick Sutcliffe provided that analysis on the Marquee Sports Network broadcast in the 8th inning Monday night.

Sutcliffe is right — the Cubs put together a “clean” performance in every facet of the game during a 6-0 victory over the San Diego Padres.

It snapped a 5-game losing streak for the Cubs and the game featured a host of encouraging signs for the team:

—Kyle Hendricks had a very strong outing.

—Ian Happ collected a pair of 2-out RBI.

—Willson Contreras excelled in the leadoff spot (3 singles, hit-by-pitch, run).

—Seiya Suzuki had an RBI double in the 1st inning.

—The offense turned in an all-around game with 11 hits, including 3 with runners in scoring position.

—The Cubs brought their gloves to the West Coast, with a number of nice plays including a slick stop by Patrick Wisdom to begin a double play that got Sutcliffe hyped up:

Hendricks’ performance was particularly important to this Cubs squad.

He became the first Cubs pitcher to get an out in the 8th inning this season — and the first since Aug. 28, 2021.

But Hendricks did even more than that. He came 1 out away from tossing the Cubs’ first complete game since Sept. 13, 2020 (when Alec Mills twirled a no-hitter).

Hendricks was simply masterful, striking out 7 and allowing only 3 singles. David Ross came out to get his ace with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th inning with Hendricks at 116 pitches. His only walk came in that 9th inning. 

When he showed up in Arizona for Spring Training this year, Hendricks pointed to his fastball command as a major focal point — particularly establishing it low-and-away. He knew that was a key to his success and it was something he felt was lacking last year.

Monday night, he felt like he really had the fastball locked in.

“Really established my fastball, like I’ve been talking about lately,” Hendricks told Taylor McGregor on the field after the game. “Established my fastball at the bottom of the zone, pitched in when I needed to. And the changeup played right off my fastballs that were down. Didn’t have to throw too many curveballs. But really my fastball command was everything.”

Hendricks said he talked Ross into going back out for the 9th inning but was unhappy with himself for the walk.

“In a 6-0 game, you’d rather give up a solo homer or something,” Hendricks said. “You don’t want to walk somebody.”

But what did Hendricks say to Ross to let him go back out for the final frame?

“Not much, to be honest,” Hendricks told McGregor. “I just didn’t shake his hand and I said, ‘I feel good.’ He was looking for that. He said he was on the fence anyway, so it was easy to talk him into that time. I love the confidence he puts in me and the trust he has always.”

Scott Effross came on to get the last out and the Cubs were able to exhale and celebrate a victory for the first time in over a week.

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