Just when you were wondering whether Kyle Hendricks would ever get back to his old form, he flashed brilliance Friday night in St. Louis.
Hendricks allowed just five hits, and threw an efficient 91 pitches before being lifted with one out and two runners on base in the bottom of the eighth. Chris Martin bailed him out of that inning and David Robertson threw a scoreless ninth for his ninth save, and the Cubs posted their eighth shutout win of 2022, 3-0 over the Cardinals, in the series opener in St. Louis.
In case you didn’t notice something in that outstanding outing, I did. The Cardinals hit a couple of balls hard off Hendricks in the first inning, including a long fly to left that went foul. Hendricks must have made some adjustments after that, because he came out for the second and began getting weak contact and strikeouts on changeups, his signature pitch.
He was also helped out when Juan Yepez singled to left in the second but was thrown out trying to take second.
Meanwhile, the Cubs offense put together just enough for a solid victory.
In the second inning, Patrick Wisdom led off with a single and then Nico Hoerner yanked one out of the yard [VIDEO].
I meant it when I wrote “yanked”: The ball wasn’t hit as hard as some home runs, had a low launch angle and didn’t go very far, but it went far enough:
#Cubs 2 @ #STLCards 0 [T2-0o]:— Home Run Tracker (@DingerTracker) June 25, 2022
Nico Hoerner homers (4): fly ball to LF (2-run)
Hit: 382ft, 97.7mph, 27°
Pitch: 75.1mph Curveball (RHP Andre Pallante, 4)
I have always thought Nico could have 15-20 homer power. I’d love to see more of this.
In the fifth, Christopher Morel walked with one out and Willson Contreras singled him to third. Ian Happ followed with this RBI double [VIDEO].
That was it for the scoring, and that was enough for victory. I mentioned earlier the good relief work from Martin and Robertson, and here’s the final out, recorded by Robertson on a nasty cutter [VIDEO].
More on Hendricks: Here are his six strikeouts [VIDEO].
And Kyle continued his career-long dominance of the Cardinals:
The @Cubs are 18-7 in games started by Kyle Hendricks vs. STL pic.twitter.com/sn0xkQb1LC— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) June 25, 2022
Keep up the great work, Kyle — here’s hoping it will continue against other teams. His next start should be against the Reds at Wrigley Field next week. Hendricks’ efficiency helped get this one completed in two hours, 43 minutes, the sixth-fastest Cubs nine-inning game this year. When the pitch clock is (presumably) instituted in 2023, there will be a lot more games this short, or shorter. Can’t wait.
Regarding the Apple TV+ broadcast, it was better than the previous Cubs game on the streaming service (May 13 vs. the Diamondbacks). The announcers called the game pretty much straight-up (though there were a few too many times when Melanie Newman got a bit overwrought over routine fly balls). The only objection I had was a far-too-long interview with Keegan Thompson which took away from the action for an entire inning and ended abruptly when Happ hit into an inning-ending double play. Again, Apple’s visual coverage is excellent, the picture quality is first-rate and the graphics are done well.
The Cubs are now 3-3 against St. Louis this year and will go for two straight in Busch Stadium Saturday afternoon. Adrian Sampson will start for the Cubs and Miles Mikolas gets the call for the Cardinals. Game time is 1:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. It’s going to be a hot one in St. Louis, with a forecast high of 98 degrees. The game preview here will post at 11:30 a.m. CT.