Over his first 53⅓ innings this year, after returning from a shoulder injury, Kyle Hendricks allowed just two home runs.
Since then, in a total of 4⅔ innings — all of Friday’s game plus the last two hitters he faced at Yankee Stadium last Sunday — he’s served up six long balls.
Now you explain that to me. Hendricks couldn’t possibly have lost it that quickly. Granted that he needs pinpoint control and command to succeed, still, it doesn’t seem possible that suddenly those things got that terrible.
Hopefully, The Professor can figure out what’s not working, because four of those home runs came off Red Sox bats, two by Rafael Devers, and the Red Sox blew out the Cubs 8-3 in a rare Friday night game at Wrigley Field. (And yes, as I have written here previously, the Cubs should be permitted more of those.)
After a scoreless first, the first two Boston homers were hit in the second, one by Devers and another by Adam Duvall, who used to blast Cubs pitching as a member of the Reds. The Duvall homer looked like it was going foul, then seemed to turn at the last minute and scrape right past the retired-number flags on the left-field foul pole before landing on Waveland:
It was Duvall’s 15th career homer against the Cubs, his second-most against any team (Nationals, 17).
The Red Sox continued the homer barrage in the third. Jarren Duran led off with a double, and two outs later Devers hit his second of the night to make it 4-0.
The Cubs got on the board in the bottom of the third. Tucker Barnhart doubled with one out and Mike Tauchman followed with this RBI double [VIDEO].
Another Boston homer followed in the fourth, a leadoff shot by Triston Casas that made it 5-1.
Hendricks left the game with two out in the fifth. Hopefully he can figure out what went wrong before his next outing.
In the fifth, Barnhart led off with a single and ill-advisedly tried to take second, where he was thrown out easily. I don’t understand this sort of thing. Barnhart is probably the slowest player on the Cubs. Why would you do that with your team down three runs?
In the sixth, Bellinger hit another ball out of the yard [VIDEO].
Bellinger is heating up at the right time. Here’s hoping some of his teammates get the idea, too.
So it’s 5-3 and maybe, just maybe, the Cubs can get back in this game... nope, because yet another Boston baseball left the yard in the seventh. With one out, Masataka Yoshida singled and Justin Turner homered off Mark Leiter Jr. to make it 7-3 and that was essentially that.
Around the time the eighth inning was ending, it started to rain, and the rain got a bit harder in the ninth as a sixth Red Sox home run came off the bat of Yu Chang to make it 8-3. That one was off Javier Assad.
The Cubs did make things interesting in the bottom of the ninth as the rain got harder. A single and two walks off Tayler Scott loaded the bases with two out and forced Alex Cora to call on his closer, Kenley Jansen.
Tauchman had a chance, I suppose, but Jansen disposed of him on a three-pitch strikeout [VIDEO].
That was Jansen’s 20th save. That is tied for eighth in MLB so far this year. The Cubs have 13 — as a team.
All the Cubs can do is pick up the pieces and try again Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Marcus Stroman, who has had eight days’ rest after opting out of the All-Star Game, will start for the Cubs. James Paxton will start for Boston. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.