ST. LOUIS — If the Cubs weren’t days away from being sellers at the trade deadline and were closer to the top of the National League Central, there might have been more attention on what Kyle Hendricks has been doing on the mound.
But regardless of the Cubs’ plans at the deadline and the shift in their season, Hendricks has continued to have one of the best stretches in baseball.
Hendricks left Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals trailing by a run, but his teammates bailed him out, rallying in the ninth inning for the second straight night. However, the Cardinals prevailed 3-2 in 10 innings on Yadier Molina’s single off Craig Kimbrel that scored Paul Goldschmidt, who was placed on second base.
The Cubs’ offense had gotten nothing going and entered the ninth 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. But with two out, second baseman Nico Hoerner was hit by a pitch to put a runner on and keep the Cubs’ hopes alive.
Pinch hitter Eric Sogard followed by lining an RBI double into the right-field gap, scoring Hoerner to tie the game at 2.
That took Hendricks off the hook for the loss, extending his current hot streak. In his previous 13 starts, Hendricks was 10-0 with a 2.66 ERA. He also had quality starts in 13 of his previous 15 outings.
While he didn’t earn his MLB-leading 13th win, Hendricks finished another strong start, allowing two runs and eight hits in 6⅓ innings. The Cardinals got to him in the seventh inning, scoring a pair of runs before he was removed from the game.
In a starting rotation that has been anything but consistent, Hendricks has not only been the stabilizing leader that the Cubs hoped he would be this season, but in many ways, he’s been even better.
The ace continued his run of success Wednesday against the Cardinals and did what he does best: give the Cubs an opportunity to win a game.
“Kyle is definitely a leader in [every] sense of the word,” manager David Ross said before the game. “His personality is a benefit in so many ways in baseball, because of the ups and downs of the season — the different things that come with a baseball season. He’s the same guy in the clubhouse and the same guy in the dugout. He works hard, he’s prepared, but he’s also just a steady personality.”
In a battle with longtime Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, Hendricks put up another stellar performance in an old-school pitchers’ duel.
The right-hander rolled through the first four innings as he scattered two hits while inducing a ton of weak contact. He recorded five of his first nine outs in the game on grounders.
Hendricks has been able to avoid getting himself in bad situations and limiting damage, and he did that again.
He got into a jam in the fifth inning as he allowed back-to-back singles to Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader to put runners on the corners with one out.
But he didn’t let the traffic stop him. After getting the second out of the inning on a Wainwright sacrifice bunt, Hendricks struck Dylan Carlson out looking to end the inning.
What has been one of the more impressive parts about Hendricks’ three-month run of success has been the way he’s been doing it.
Throughout his eight-year major-league career, Hendricks has been the model for pitch mix. While he’s done that during his run, the Cubs’ right-hander feels like he has another level.
“I told him, I’m pretty thankful for what he gives us every fifth day,” Ross said before the game. “I think he wants to go deeper into games. I think he wants to not give up. All the great ones I’ve been around, they don’t want to give up a hit.”