MINNEAPOLIS - The National League brand of baseball is predicated on pitching, defense and manufacturing runs without the benefit of a regular designated hitter.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon talked again before Friday night's game about how he prefers the NL style of game and the strategy that goes into it, even though his team struggled to play defense and pitch in an ugly 7-2 loss to the Twins in front of 36,817 fans at Target Field.
The Cubs had rookie phenom Kyle Schwarber at DH with a .600 batting average coming into play Friday, but they struggled in every other aspect of the game, committing two errors and making a handful of other fielding miscues behind Kyle Hendricks, who gave up a career-high 11 hits and seven runs (six earned) in his five innings of work.
"I just wasn't making pitches. Just didn't have it today," Hendricks said. "My stuff just wasn't there. Just one of those days.
"Obviously to win ballgames, you've gotta pitch well and play defense. That's pretty clear. But the first part of that is pitching well. I can only do what I can and regardless of a couple of those plays, I still can't give up 11 hits in 5 innings."
Hendricks gave up three straight singles to lead off the game, but Starlin Castro booted what should have been an easy double-play ball - allowing one run to score - and then had a brain fart and kept his head down after the play, allowing Eddie Rosario to score easily from 2B despite the ball never leaving the infield dirt.
The Twins tacked on a run in the third, another two in the fifth and two more in the sixth to chase Hendricks once and for all.
"I'm going to defend our guys to the very end. I thought we played nine innings, played 'em hard," Maddon said. "I thought we hit some balls really good tonight. We were kind of a little bit unlucky.
"We made a mental mistake early in the game that cost us. But other than that, it looked more awful than it actually was. There was a lot of good."
Hendricks is very poised and even-keeled on the mound, even when things aren't going his way. Maddon didn't see the second-year starter show up any of his teammates despite a rough game.
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"With Kyle, if he had any frustration, he probably would have pinned it on himself," Maddon said. "He's not the kind of guy who's going to show frustration toward his teammates.
"But he'll be the first one to tell you also that when mistakes are made, you've gotta pitch through that, too. Game in progress, he just was not as sharp as he normally is."
The Cubs struggled offensively against Minnesota starter Phil Hughes, managing just two hits through eight innings, including Anthony Rizzo's fourth-inning home run.
Rizzo added another long home run in the ninth to close out the scoring for the Cubs.
"Just not our day," Hendricks said. "I don't think you can take too much from it.
"We were hitting balls hard just right at guys, and they were hitting balls hard that found holes. That's baseball."