Cubs

Cubs escape rain, start four-game set in Arizona

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Cubs escape rain, start four-game set in Arizona

Thursday, April 28, 2011Posted: 10:25 a.m.

Associated Press

The Chicago Cubs are glad to be headed to some warm weather, but their next opponent could be difficult for Ryan Dempster.

The struggling Dempster has a poor history as a starter against the Arizona Diamondbacks heading into Thursday night's opener of a four-game series at Chase Field.

Chicago (10-13) just completed a homestand that was scheduled for 10 games. Only eight were played after two weather-related postponements, including Wednesday's finale of a three-game set against Colorado. The Cubs, losers of three straight, did not have one game rained out last season.

"We know the conditions are going to be better, you know what to expect in Arizona," manager Mike Quade said. "It can wear on you when you get 10 days of this kind of weather. We'd love to have the conditions we're going get (in Arizona) right here at home. Warm weather will not be frowned upon."

Quade opted to push Casey Coleman's start to Sunday to keep the rest of his rotation in line. That means Dempster (1-2, 7.63 ERA) will try to put aside both his recent woes and his problems against the Diamondbacks (10-13) on Thursday.

The right-hander allowed seven runs and nine hits over 5 2-3 innings Saturday and did not get a decision in a 10-8 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He surrendered three homers to bring his season total to eight in 30 2-3 innings.

"He's just not executing his pitches," Quade told the Cubs' official website.

Dempster is 2-7 with a 6.24 ERA in 14 career starts against Arizona. He yielded five runs over seven innings in a 6-4 loss April 6 at Wrigley Field - the Cubs' only loss in their last nine meetings with the Diamondbacks.

Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra is 5 for 8 against Dempster, and shortstop Stephen Drew is 4 for 8. Justin Upton has not joined in that success, going 2 for 15 off Dempster.

Arizona center fielder Chris Young hit two homers and drove in three runs in Wednesday's 8-4 home loss to Philadelphia. He's got six homers and 15 RBIs in 12 home games.

The Diamondbacks missed a chance to sweep the Phillies after Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson turned in strong starts in the first two games of the series. Joe Saunders allowed six runs over 5 2-3 innings Wednesday.

"You are not going to pitch good in every game," manager Kirk Gibson said. "Give them some credit. They put some good swings on us and hit good pitches as well."

For the opener of this series, Gibson will give the ball to Barry Enright (0-2, 6.65), who is 0-7 with a 7.40 ERA in his last nine starts. He gave up season highs of five runs and 12 hits over 5 2-3 innings Saturday in a 6-4 road loss to the New York Mets.

Enright is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts against the Cubs. The right-hander did not receive a decision in a 6-5 loss at Wrigley on April 5, when he yielded four runs over six innings.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

It's safe to say Kyle Hendricks has figured 'it' out

It's safe to say Kyle Hendricks has figured 'it' out

It was only a matter of time before Kyle Hendricks figured it all out. 

It appears Friday was that day. 

The 29-year-old right-hander was off to a slow start to the season, surrendering 24 hits and 8 earned runs in 13.1 innings across his first three starts, good for a 5.40 ERA and 2.18 WHIP. 

Things looked a little better last time out — only 2 earned runs allowed on 6 hits in 5 innings last Saturday against the Angels — but even after that start, Hendricks admitted he still feels like he's fighting himself and searching for his fastball command.

"You can't rush it," he said after that outing. "You can't rush the process. But it definitely gets frustrating. I need to do a better job and give the team a better chance to win when I'm out there regardless. And set a better tone — be more aggressive with my fastball and set a better tone for the game. You want it to come quick, but at least I'm seeing something, so I just gotta stick with what I'm doing."

Whatever he was seeing with his mechanics came to pass in Friday afternoon's 5-1 Cubs win, as he completely baffled the Diamondbacks in a brilliant performance — 7 shutout innings, permitting only 3 singles while striking out 11. It was his first double-digit strikeout game since he whiffed 12 Cardinals on Aug. 13, 2016 en route to his ERA title that season.

"Yeah, like I said, you kinda always want it to come, but I didn't think it was gonna come this quick," Hendricks admitted after Friday's game. "So to go out and make that many good pitches, yeah it helps the confidence a lot. It solidifies the things we've been working on, so I just told the guys this was just one good day, so tomorrow, gotta get right back at it with another good work day and hopefully get on a roll here."

It was also the Cubs' third straight appearance from a starting pitcher of 7 shutout innings, after Cole Hamels and Jose Quintana turned the trick in the final two games in Miami earlier in the week.

The one pitch Hendricks felt good about last time out — his changeup — was his bread and butter Friday, too. He threw it 30 times out of his 100 pitches and induced 8 swings and misses.

"That was kinda classic Kyle," Joe Maddon said. "Great changeup, again. A lot of called strikes, pitching on the edges. ... That first inning or so, still seeking and then once he found it, he got into a nice groove."

Part of the success of the changeup was due to Hendricks' command with his fastball, which he apparently figured out — for one start, at least. He threw 66 percent of his pitches for strikes throughout the game and 35 of his 56 fastballs went for strikes. 

"From the get-go, I just felt more comfortable in my mechanics, so it just freed everything up," Hendricks said. "From there, I just used my fastball a lot better — kinda like what I was talking about. Fastball command and just establishing it early. Everything else worked off that and it just had good action today. Kept it down, made a lot of good pitches, so it worked out."

Hendricks even saw 17 pitches at the plate despite an 0-for-4 performance, as the Cubs offense put 19 runners on base throughout the course of the afternoon.

However, his day was not without negatives. He took a 110 mph liner off the left leg in the seventh inning, but stayed in the game and finished off the last two hitters he faced.

He also snapped his fascinating personal streak, as he threw his first wild pitch since Sept. 5, 2016 — a span of 6,662 pitches:

"I had no idea; I came in the clubhouse and someone brought that to my attention," Hendricks said, laughing. "Time to start a new streak."

In all, Hendricks picked up his first win of 2019 and lowered his season ERA to 3.54 and WHIP to 1.67 with his performance. He also helped pitch his team back to the .500 level (9-9) for the first time since the opening weekend of the season.

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Joe Maddon weighs in on the bat-flip debate

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USA TODAY

Joe Maddon weighs in on the bat-flip debate

You won't be finding Joe Maddon among Tim Anderson's defenders, but he's also not using this week's incident as a teaching moment for his players.

Maddon is still under the belief that it's better not to create a list of rules in the clubhouse to govern the players, but he also isn't into the whole show of celebration, of which bat-flips are at the forefront.

When Anderson flipped his bat on a home run Wednesday against the Royals, Kansas City pitcher Brad Keller responded by drilling Anderson the next time up. That resulted in a benches — and bullpens — clearing incident and then on Friday afternoon, both Anderson and Keller were hit with suspensions (Anderson was suspended for using a racial slur in his response to Keller). 

This is just the latest — and maybe one of the most charged — examples of the whole bat-flip/unwritten rules ordeal. Baseball's long tradition of punishing players for "showing up" a pitcher is alive and strong, and that's true even in the younger generation (Keller is only 23 years old). 

At 65, Maddon has been in the game of baseball since decades before Keller was even born, but he subscribes to a similar line of thinking as the Royals right-hander.

"I know my first year [with Cubs in 2015], I got upset at Junior Lake down in Miami [for flipping his bat]," Maddon said. "At that time, my being upset was about trying to flip the culture here — being more professional-looking and act like you're gonna do it again. That was my whole point about that.

"For me, I would prefer our guys didn't do that. I would prefer that the younger group right now doesn't need to see demonstrations like that in order to feel like they can watch baseball or that baseball is more interesting because somebody bat-flips really well and I kinda dig it and if I watch, I might see a bat-flip. 

"I would prefer kids watch baseball because it's a very interesting game, it's intellectually stimulating and when it's played properly, it's never too long. I prefer kids learn that method as opposed to become enamored with our game based on histrionics. I really would prefer that, but it seems to be that we are catering to that a bit.

"...When somebody choose to [bat-flip] and somebody gets hit in the butt because of it, that's what you're looking at. Regardless if you're old or new school, if you're a pitcher, I think you're gonna be offended by that. Act like you're gonna do it again would be the method that I would prefer with our guys. I want to believe we're not gonna do that, but it may happen here, too. And then we're just gonna have to wait and see how the other team reacts."

Though Maddon is not a fan of bat-flips and excessive celebration for big moments, he has not coached his players into avoiding such moments. 

That's why you still see Javy Baez out there being his typical flashy self and David Bote with an epic bat-flip on his walk-off grand slam (though that was obviously a much bigger moment than a run-of-the-mill fourth-inning homer) and Pedro Strop nearly dislocating his shoulder with some aggressive fist-pumps after nailing down a big out late in games.

But if anything does get out of line, Maddon prefers the policing comes from the players within the Cubs clubhouse or from the other team. Think back to last year when Baez tossed his bat in frustration after a pop-out against the Pirates at Wrigley Field and Strop pulled Baez aside to let him know "we don't do that here."

"I think the tried-and-true method of policing the group — whether it's the team policing itself or the industry and players doing the same thing," Maddon said. "I'd be curious to see if [Anderson] ever does that again, based on the result the other day." 

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