Hendricks' blip interrupts roll of Cubs rotation

April 27th, 2019

PHOENIX -- It had to happen eventually. A Cubs starter was going to allow more than three runs again.

Before ’ rocky outing in Friday night’s 8-3 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field, Chicago’s rotation was on a roll, posting a 1.79 ERA over its previous 12 games with no starter allowing more than three runs.

After the Cubs’ tough start to the season, it was a much-needed boost over the past two weeks. Chicago dropped three straight series on the road to open the year 2-7 before the rotation led it to a stretch of 10 wins in 14 games entering Friday.

Hendricks couldn’t carry over the momentum from his stellar outing last time out, when he tossed seven scoreless innings, fanned 11 D-backs and earned his first win of the season a week ago at Wrigley Field.

“The ball just wasn’t finishing out of his hand like we normally see it. It didn’t have the same deception,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “Just wasn’t as sharp as he normally is, that’s the best way I could describe it. He normally makes a lot of pitches that hitters take that are called strikes, that are well-placed. He just didn’t have that. His changeup didn’t have that little thing at the end. It was just one of those nights.”

This time, Arizona pounced on the Cubs right-hander early. Hendricks gave up three first-inning runs on a quartet of singles, then allowed another run on back-to-back doubles by Ildemaro Vargas and David Peralta in the third.

Hendricks gave up another three-spot in the fifth, on an RBI single by Wilmer Flores and Nick Ahmed’s two-run triple. The righty did not return to the mound the next inning after matching season highs with seven runs and 10 hits allowed.

“It was just terrible mental approach, bad intent, bad conviction to pitches,” Hendricks said. “That was kind of the story throughout. Mechanically, it was OK. Action on my pitches was good. I just didn’t make good pitches.”

The Cubs have had three games in which a starter has given up seven or more runs, two by Hendricks. He also gave up seven in a loss to the Braves on April 1, although only two of those runs were earned.

Through the first month of the season, Hendricks is 1-4 with a 5.33 ERA. However, the Cubs aren’t concerned about the reliable right-hander.

“He’s been a stud for us,” left fielder said. “You kind of know what to expect from him, so there’s no reason to worry. He knows how to make the ball do what he wants it to do, and he’s going to do that.”

Bryant, Baez go deep

Bryant hit a two-run homer in the third, his second of the season and first since Opening Day.

“He’s feeling better. He’s feeling progress, so I really have nothing to be concerned about,” Maddon said.

An inning later, belted a solo shot, becoming the first Cubs player to hit nine homers in the team’s first 24 games since Andre Dawson in 1987, when he won the National League MVP Award.

Leadoff hitter had a big night, collecting four hits, including a double.

“When he really hunts and focuses his area, he does a really nice job,” Maddon said.