Kyle Hendricks has long been my favorite current Cub. He’s a throwback, in many ways, to pitchers of days gone by, winning without great velocity because he knows how to locate his pitches and induce weak contact. All together now:
In 26⅓ innings so far this year, Hendricks has walked two — and one of those was intentional. He’s now walked two or fewer in 33 consecutive starts (the last 29 of 2019 and first four this year). That’s the longest such streak by any Cubs hurler since Bill Hands did it in all 34 of his starts in 1968. And speaking of weak contact for Kyle:
6 IP, 5 K, 1 ER— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) August 13, 2020
The average exit velocity off Hendricks was 81.9 MPH, his lowest of the season. pic.twitter.com/PFwGsqA16w
While Kyle was carving up Cleveland hitters, the Cubs offense was taking care of business. Anthony Rizzo began the scoring with this blast [VIDEO].
That ball was a low line drive (check out that launch angle!):
The Cubs chased Carlos Carrasco in the fifth inning. They’d run up a lot of long counts in the early innings, forcing Carrasco to throw a lot of pitches, and after two singles and a stolen base by Javier Baez put runners on second and third, Ian Happ was walked to load the bases. Jason Heyward then lifted this deep drive to right [VIDEO].
That made it 2-0 and with runners still on second and third — both advanced on Heyward’s fly ball — David Bote plated two more [VIDEO].
Something else happened in that fifth inning that I found ridiculous. Willson Contreras was called out on strikes on a borderline check swing. He had a couple of words for plate umpire Tim Timmons and then walked away, slamming his bat to the ground [VIDEO].
The bat was slammed to the ground, but nowhere near Timmons. It was clearly done out of frustration. There’s no way that should result in an ejection. Fortunately, it had no impact on the final score of the game.
The Indians scored off Hendricks in the bottom of the fifth, but Kris Bryant got that run back in a hurry [VIDEO].
Unlike Rizzo’s, KB’s homer was crushed!
The homer was KB’s second of the year, and for those of you who don’t think Kris is hitting: After starting the year 1-for-17, he’s hitting .276/.400/.552 (8-for-29) over his last eight games with three doubles and two home runs — perfectly normal KB production over those games.
Cleveland made it 6-2 with a run in the seventh, and then after a pair of walks in the eighth, former Indian Jason Kipnis got that run back for the Cubs [VIDEO].
A final Cubs run scored after yet another walk — the ninth Cubs free pass of the game — and this double by Heyward [VIDEO].
Eight hits, nine walks, a pair of home runs and an outstanding starting pitcher outing — you can’t ask for much more than that from your baseball team. The complaint department is definitely closed and locked up tight this morning.
The Cubs have the best record in baseball at 12-3. They’re now in quite the exclusive club in franchise history, among Cubs teams that have started that well or better over 15 games. The 1907 Cubs — World Series winners — started 13-2, and the 1970 Cubs also began 12-3. (Let’s not talk any more about the 1970 Cubs.) They’re the only team in the NL Central with a winning record and seem well-positioned for top playoff seeding. KB sums up the team’s great start:
Kris Bryant:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 13, 2020
"It seems like there's not really a letdown in our lineup. I can't really remember a time playing for this team where it was really like that, where one through nine there was just damage all through the order. I think it shows in our record."
They’ll return to Wrigley Field Thursday evening to begin a four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Yu Darvish will start for the Cubs and Brett Anderson will go for the Brewers. Game time is 6:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage tonight is on Fox-TV — full national broadcast, no blackouts.