To conclude this series of no-hitters lost in the ninth both for and against the Cubs, I am going to repost most of the recap I wrote on the Cubs’ 4-1 win over the Cardinals on a September night in 2016. I’ve re-worked it a bit to focus more on the no-hitter than on the Cubs’ run to the NL Central title, and eventual World Series championship, that year.
Despite coming up three outs short of a no-hitter, this Kyle Hendricks game against the Cardinals was magnificent.
Hendricks, who barely breaks 90 on pitch-speed meters in an era when 95 is standard issue for pitchers, had his no-hit bid broken up with no one out in the ninth.
That blast also deprived Hendricks of a shutout, and after that plate umpire Joe West decided to make himself part of the show, tossing Joe Maddon. What was that about?
Catcher Miguel Montero quickly visited the mound, but tension mounted after he returned behind the plate.
"(West) tapped me on the shoulder and told me to go out," Montero said. "So I'm walking out, and (West) then said, 'If you go out, I'll count it as a visit.'"
As Montero went to the mound for a second time, Maddon came out to argue with West and was tossed.
"There was a misinterpretation there," Maddon said. "We needed a little bit more time to get (closer Aroldis Chapman) ready, based on the situation. That's all. And I needed the catcher to go out to the mound.
"We were denied, and I didn't like it. So I made my stand. I truly believe we were proper in that."
Even a certain former Cubs pitcher noticed West’s antics:
Chapman (34th save) came in to finish up, and the Cubs wound up with a 4-1 win.
The outstanding outing dropped Hendricks’ career ERA from 2.94 to 2.91 in 73 total games (72 starts).
Hendricks, as always, spent the evening inducing weak contact, the hallmark of his game. He had Cardinals hitters swinging and missing at 81 mile per hour changeups, making them hit routine ground balls to Cubs infielders, nine ground ball outs in all. Beyond that, Cubs fielders backed up Kyle with spectacular defense.
Prior to his home run, Hazelbaker had hit a foul ball down the right-field line in the sixth. Jason Heyward dived into the stands to make this great catch [VIDEO].
(Check out the Cardinals fan trying to grab the ball out of Heyward’s glove.)
Kyle’s changeup is what gets him outs, even strikeouts, rare for a pitcher without velocity. He struck out seven and issued two walks (one was erased on a double play) and the Cubs’ win was thanks primarily to a pair of home runs.
Ben Zobrist hit his 15th, which was his first since August 20 and just his second since the All-Star break, to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead in the second [VIDEO].
That was the longest homer the year for Ben:
The Cubs plated another run in the third on an RBI single by Anthony Rizzo after a pair of singles by Javier Baez and Dexter Fowler. Fowler added a two-run shot in the fifth after Baez had reached on an error [VIDEO].
Kyle has worked very hard to get where he is, a non-traditional starter in an era where everyone throws hard, kind of a throwback. Greg Maddux comparisons have been made, not entirely unfairly. Hopefully Kyle will throw a no-no someday — Maddux himself never had one. The Hazelbaker home run deprived Hendricks not only of a no-hitter, but for a chance to throw “a Maddux,” defined as a complete-game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches. It’d have been close, as Kyle left the game with 96 pitches (64 strikes), still very efficient.
One more note on this game, a game chronicled earlier in this series:
And one more no-hitter note: The only no-hitter thrown by anyone this year was Jake Arrieta’s against the Reds in Cincinnati on April 21.
Hope you have enjoyed this series of near no-hitters both for and against the Cubs. It is worth noting, as I conclude, that next September 2 will be the 50th anniversary of the last Cubs no-hitter thrown at Wrigley Field,