Hendricks impresses, but Cubs' bats shut out
Rookie gives up just one earned run over 6 1/3 in tough-luck loss
CHICAGO -- Eight hundred miles and 355 wins away from Wrigley Field, Greg Maddux was being inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks has been compared more than a few times to a young Maddux.
"He was one of the best pitchers of all time and one of my favorites growing up," Hendricks said. "He's definitely a guy I want to model my game after. I've been asked about him before. If I could have semi as good a career as he had, I'd be happy."
On Sunday, Hendricks held his own against Adam Wainwright in the Cardinals' 1-0 win over the Cubs. Matt Holliday belted his 10th home run, a shot with two outs in the first, to back Wainwright and take the series in front of 35,256 at Wrigley Field.
Making his third big league start, Hendricks served up seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander was coming off his first win in the Majors in his last outing when he threw seven scoreless innings against the Padres. He has 354 more wins to go before he catches Maddux.
"Hendricks did a nice job," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He didn't give us a lot. ... You could tell he's a cerebral pitcher -- guy is thinking all the time and trying to out-think instead of out-stuff. But he's got good stuff, too. Just making smart pitches."
Hendricks, 24, did lower his ERA from 2.77 to 2.33 with Sunday's outing, and now has two of the Cubs' six quality starts in their last 19 games. Jake Arrieta has the other four.
"All pitchers are out there thinking, at least that's the goal," Hendricks said. "I just take that mindset, watching video, trying to figure out the hitters, and then on the mound, the biggest thing is making the adjustments. I think that's what separates a lot of good pitchers from being average -- just figuring out what the hitters are trying to do against you during the game is huge and making adjustments to combat that."
It wasn't an easy assignment as Hendricks had to face the National League's All-Star starter, who was making his 269th career start. Wainwright served up five hits over seven innings, and now is 7-1 in 18 games (13 starts) at Wrigley.
"It was awesome," Hendricks said about facing Wainwright. "I didn't sleep too much last night because I was so excited. He's obviously one of the best pitchers in the game and those are the moments you live for is to pitch against the best."
With two outs in the Cardinals' first, Holliday launched a 2-1 fastball from Hendricks into the basket rimming the top of the center-field bleachers. The Cubs now have given up first inning runs in five straight games (10 runs total).
It wasn't a bad pitch, just missed location.
"He likes it down," Hendricks said of Holliday. "I was trying to start it more outside and bring it back, and it started too much on the corner and ran over the middle a little bit. The pitch was down, but caught too much of the middle of the plate. I wish I could have it back, but you have to live with those."
Cubs manager Rick Renteria wasn't bothered by it, and thought center fielder Arismendy Alcantara actually had a play. Hendricks continues to impress in his short time with the big league team.
"He is very prepared and I think for him, it's like going to school," Renteria said of the Dartmouth graduate. "When you're prepared and you have to take a test, it's a little easier than trying to cram. It seems like he has a good hold on how he's supposed to go about his business. You can see it -- he's very calm. When we took him out, he was very calm and had a very good demeanor and just did a very nice job."
Hendricks is winning over his teammates, too.
"He works quick, the ground balls are nice, the double plays are nice, and that's all we can ask for," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "[His two games], both at home, were not good days to pitch at Wrigley and he did a nice job."
The Cubs didn't provide any support, and stranded seven baserunners. The loss was the Cubs' seventh in nine games since the All-Star break, and they are 4-15 since the July 4 trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics. Sunday's loss was the 18th shutout for the Cardinals this year, tops in the NL, while the Cubs were blanked for the 12th time.
"The big picture is that we want to win every game, but the way we're competing and holding our own on a daily basis, I think the attitude that these young men have is in the right place," Renteria said. "I think they're trying to do things the right way and we just fell a little short."