Top 10 Games of 2020: Hendricks’ dominance vs. Twins
The 2020 Cubs season may have been shorter than normal, but it was packed with huge moments and thrilling games. Marquee Sports Network is counting down the Top 10 games of the year — featuring a new Top 10 game each weeknight in November on our network.
No. 8 – Cubs vs. Twins (Sept. 18)
Kyle Hendricks twirled a gem, shutting out the Twins over 8 innings with Willson Contreras providing the winning run in the 1st inning.
At the end of the 2020 season, Theo Epstein was well aware of one of the strengths of the Cubs’ roster.
“We have two of the best starting pitchers in the game on good contracts moving forward,” Epstein told reporters at his end-of-year press conference.
While Yu Darvish’s dominance was rewarded with a second-place finish in the NL Cy Young Award voting, Hendricks had another quietly dominant season for the Cubs.
Against the Twins on Sept. 18, Hendricks showed off that dominance. Hendricks twirled a gem against the Twins, striking out 10 over 8 shutout innings.
“He’s one of our horses, man,” David Ross said after the game. “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.”
Hendricks’ dominance propelled Ross to give him the ball in the playoff opener 12 days later. It was Hendricks’ penultimate start of the year and it capped a dominant September for the Professor.
In September, Hendricks carried a 1.45 ERA in 5 starts and 37.1 innings of work, he struck out 30 and opponents had just a .582 OPS against him. He turned in a quality start in all 5 outings.
“This is the goal, obviously,” Hendricks said after the game and in the middle of his superb stretch. “I think the key was that mentally, it was locked in on the glove, working pitch-to-pitch, not getting too quick.
Not to be outdone, Hendricks’ battery mate Contreras provided all the offense the Cubs would need.
Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant led off the 1st inning with back-to-back walks and Contreras drove in Rizzo with a single to right-center. Contreras was 2-for-3 with a bunt single and a walk in the game and nabbed the Twins’ Jake Cave as he attempted to steal second in the 2nd inning.
Jeremy Jeffress showcased his prowess in the 9th inning, shutting down the Twins, including inducing a groundball to Nico Hoerner who flipped it to Javy Báez to turn a slick double play. It was the 8th save of the season for Jeffress.
Báez, Hoerner turn smooth double play
Willson RBI single
Contreras nabs Cave stealing
Hendricks strikes out 10