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Rizzo, Hendricks help Cubs get the best of Mets

July 20, 2016

CHICAGO -- The constant for the Cubs since the All-Star break has been the starting pitching, and Kyle Hendricks continued that trend on Wednesday against the Mets. It didn't hurt to have Anthony Rizzo launch a pair of home runs into the right-field bleachers at Wrigley Field either.Rizzo belted two

CHICAGO -- The constant for the Cubs since the All-Star break has been the starting pitching, and Kyle Hendricks continued that trend on Wednesday against the Mets. It didn't hurt to have Anthony Rizzo launch a pair of home runs into the right-field bleachers at Wrigley Field either.
Rizzo belted two homers, driving in three, and Addison Russell smacked a two-run double to back Hendricks and lift the Cubs to a 6-2 victory over the Mets to take the series. The Cubs couldn't match the Mets' sweep in New York, but Chicago manager Joe Maddon was happy with what he calls a "meatloaf" -- two out of three ain't bad.

Hendricks seemed comfortable in the 1988 throwback uniforms the Cubs wore -- he was born in '89, by the way -- and continued to thrive at home. He's now 7-1 at Wrigley Field with a 1.36 ERA, giving up 10 earned runs over 66 1/3 innings pitched.

"The way he's pitching to me, it doesn't matter where he pitches," Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said. "He's been outstanding."
Hendricks continues Wrigley Field dominance
All of the Cubs' runs came off Bartolo Colon, who departed after 4 1/3 innings and took the loss, just his second in his last 11 starts.
"What happened has happened," Colon said. "All we can do is just focus on [our next series in] Miami and afterwards."
At critical juncture, Mets focused on winning
Lift off: On Tuesday, Rizzo struck out four times for the first time in his career. He made up for it Wednesday. With one out in the third, he launched his 23rd home run, and he then belted a two-run shot in the fifth, driving in Kris Bryant, who had doubled. Rizzo now has hit safely in 37 of his last 44 games since May 29 and has 13 homers and 36 RBIs in that stretch. The first blast was measured at 451 feet, the second longest by a Cubs player this year, and, according to Statcast™, had an exit velocity of 106.9 mph. The second homer registered at 436 feet.

"Even if they go out just over the yellow line, it's just as good," Rizzo said. "Those definitely feel good. I just put good swings on the ball and that's all I want to do."
Showing his age: Rizzo wasn't the only Cubs hitter to dent Colon, who matched his season high with six earned runs. Colon retired the Cubs in order just once, in the second inning, putting multiple runners on base in the first, fourth and fifth. Perhaps most troubling, Colon walked multiple batters for the third time in four starts, after doing so just twice in his first 15 outings.
"There are days I don't see Bartolo throw 15 balls in five innings," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Certainly uncharacteristic. But you're going to have blips like that once in a while."
Defensive impact: The Mets put Jason Heyward's arm to the test in the fourth inning, when James Loney attempted to score from second on a Kelly Johnson single up the middle. Charging the ball, Heyward came up throwing with a fastball to the plate that Statcast™ clocked at 98.9 mph. The throw reached home plate on one hop, giving Montero ample time to tag Loney for an inning-ending out. More >

"That's a great play by [Montero] on the tag -- that's a tweener hop, a bad hop, and he got himself in position and made the play," Maddon said.
Cashing in: Struggling to find playing time behind José Reyes, Wilmer Flores made the most of Wednesday's opportunity with a two-run homer to put the Mets on the board in the eighth. Flores is batting .412 with seven home runs and 13 RBIs in 11 games since July 3, but has started just two of the Mets' last six. The bulk of his production has come against left-handed pitchers.

"It's definitely not easy," Flores said. "You want to be out there every day, but I'm trying to find ways to stay ready whenever I'm not playing."
"All it's about is winning series. 'Oh, these guys just beat us' -- I don't go there. They're good, we're good, it happens. It's called baseball. Last year, we beat them seven times in the regular season and did not have our way in the playoffs. I'm just glad we played well. We've played six really good games since the break. We caught a little bit of a rest, came back and played outstanding defense and pitched a lot better. That's my focus as opposed to one specific team." -- Maddon, on the Mets

Since the All-Star break, the Cubs' rotation has compiled a 1.54 ERA, giving up seven earned runs over 41 innings in six games. The starters are 4-1 in that stretch, with Hendricks winning two games. Wednesday was his ninth win, a career high.
After the game, the Cubs acquired left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery from the Mariners for Minor League prospects Dan Vogelbach and Paul Blackburn. Montgomery was expected to join the Cubs in Milwaukee this weekend. More >
Mets: Following an off-day Thursday, the Mets will open a three-game set in Miami with postseason implications written all over it. Logan Verrett will start Friday's 7:10 p.m. ET opener at Marlins Park opposite left-hander Adam Conley.
Cubs:Jason Hammel will open the Cubs' series in Milwaukee on Friday. The right-hander is coming off a win over the Rangers in which he gave up one run on three hits over six innings. He's 8-1 with a 2.66 ERA against the Brewers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT from Miller Park.
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Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.