I told you guys about Kyle Hendricks in spring training.
Yes, I understand completely the reasons he didn't make the Opening Day roster and I think he was called up at exactly the right time. And I do know he'll need to make adjustments once he faces a team for the second time, because they're surely going to do the same.
Hendricks had yet another outstanding start in an early-afternoon game in New York Monday, and he was given his fifth win by Anthony Rizzo's 28th home run in the eighth inning. Javier Baez added a monstrous two-run, upper-deck homer in the ninth inning and the Cubs defeated the Mets 4-1. They got out of New York with a series split, and won the season series from the Mets five games to two.
If it seems to you as if Rizzo's done a lot of this sort of late-inning homer heroics this year, you're right:
Anthony Rizzo now has 4 go-ahead HR in the 7th inning or later this season (most in MLB). It's most by Cub since Soriano (5) in 2009— Baseball Reference (@baseball_ref) August 18, 2014
With Rizzo within shouting distance of 30 home runs, now seems as a good time as any to remind you that since Rick Monday hit 32 in 1976, only three Cubs lefthanded hitters have hit 30 or more homers in a season: Rick Wilkins (30) in 1993, (31) in 1998 and Fred McGriff (30) in 2002. There have been just 10 seasons in all of Cubs history with 30 homers from a lefthanded hitter, five of them by Billy Williams. Here's the entire list. Hopefully, Rizzo will show up frequently on that list in the years to come.
Courtesy BCBer ubercubsfan, here's Rizzo's homer:
Carlos Torres has made 16 starts out of his 131 total major-league appearances. Two of those starts, including the one Monday, have been against the Cubs. (Here's the other one.) The Cubs have yet to score a run off Torres as a starter -- 15 innings, just eight hits total, 12 strikeouts. Go figure, because overall Torres has a 5.61 ERA as a starter.
That's why it was a good thing when Torres had to leave the game after the fifth inning and 86 pitches (after having appeared in relief Sunday), because the Cubs didn't waste any time scoring a run off reliever Dana Eveland. Rizzo's double and a single by Luis Valbuena tied the game 1-1, after Hendricks had given up a solo home run to Lucas Duda. For the most part, though, Hendricks had yet another start that mirrored his last few: lots of ground balls (including one on which Starlin Castro made a great play to end the seventh inning), lots of strikes thrown and an efficient pitch count (94 in seven innings). The Cubs definitely have a keeper in Hendricks, who allowed just two singles apart from the home run. Just how dominant has Hendricks been?
Kyle Hendricks allowed 3 earned runs in his first MLB inning. Since then: 6 ER in 47.2 IP (1.13 ERA) #Cubs— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 18, 2014
Neil Ramirez (a nice 1-2-3 inning with a couple of K's) and Hector Rondon (18th save) finished up without incident. In short, this was the type of game we hope to see a lot more of in future seasons. Curiously, the one hit Rondon allowed was the Mets' fourth -- they had exactly four hits in each of the four games.
The quickie road trip to New York has ended, and the Cubs return to Wrigley Field to begin a six-game homestand starting Tuesday night at 7:05 CT. The Giants make their only 2014 visit to Wrigley this week and Tsuyoshi Wada will face San Francisco's Ryan Vogelsong.