Cubs

Everything is coming up Kyle Hendricks right now

Everything is coming up Kyle Hendricks right now

Everything Kyle Hendricks turns to a gem right now.

After making a strong case for the National League pitcher of the month in May, Hendricks kept the good times rolling as the calendar flipped to June — throwing another stellar outing and even picking up an RBI single in the Cubs' 6-3 win over Colorado Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

Pitching against the Rockies for the first time since he took the loss in the National League Wild-Card Game last October, Hendricks struck out 10 across 7 innings, surrendering only 3 runs. 

He also broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the second inning when the Rockies intentionally walked Addison Russell to get to the light-hitting Cubs pitcher with two outs and a runner on third. On the first pitch he saw from Jeff Hoffman, Hendricks blooped one into shallow left-center — his 5th hit of the season (second only to the 8 hits he recorded in 2016).

Oh yeah, and Hendricks even touched 90 mph on the radar gun.

"He was hitting the edges really well — changeup was outstanding," Joe Maddon said. "You saw several of their hitters having a really hard time with the changeup. The arm speed was perfect with that. 

"And then he threw some nice curveballs. He's just pitching well. Pitching really well, drives in a run, just had himself a wonderful evening. He set the whole thing up."

Maddon let Hendricks climb up to 111 pitches to finish the seventh inning, and the right-hander said he felt strong all night even as his pitch count ticked up. He also realized early on the Rockies were sitting on his changeup, so he dipped into his arsenal and threw his fastball more.

The result was 21 swings-and-misses by Rockies hitters — 8 on the fastball and 7 on the changeup. Colorado leadoff man Raimel Tapia accounted for 7 of those swings-and-misses all on his own, as he struck out three times against Hendricks Tuesday night.

Hendricks now has a 2.09 ERA and 0.77 WHIP since the calendar flipped to May, throwing at least 7 innings five times in seven starts in that span.

"In a way, yeah [I'm in a groove]," Hendricks said. "Physically, I feel good, so my mechanics are good and my lines and from there, I'm just able to focus on the mental. Willy [Contreras] and [Victor] Caratini — they've both just been keeping me locked in. 

"Aggressive, establishing the fastball, coming right at guys, getting Strike 1. When I have that kind of mentality, everything else just falls back into place."

On the season as a whole, Hendricks leads the Cubs with 6 wins and sports a 3.16 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.

He's been getting a ton of swings-and-misses lately, totaling at least 7 strikeouts in five of his last seven starts.

"I'm just doing a real good job of being aggressive early, so I'm getting to two strikes and I'm just finishing hitters right now," Hendricks said. "I'm still trying to pitch to contact and make good pitches and it just happens right now that my good pitches are ending up in swings and misses. It's just how it goes sometimes.

"My focus is always on making good pitches — whether soft contact or they miss it, that's the goal."

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

The Wrigley Field basket has played a huge role in this week's Cubs-Reds series.

In Monday night's game, Cincinnati catcher Curt Casali hit a game-tying homer into the basket in the seventh inning of a game the Cubs went on to lose.

But the basket giveth and the basket also taketh away.

Tuesday night, it was Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs who were singing the praises of one of the strangest ballpark quirks in baseball.

Schwarber connected on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th inning off Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, hitting a fly ball through the impossibly-humid air and into the basket in left-centerfield for a 4-3 Cubs win.

"Whoever thought about that basket — whenever that occurred — tell them, 'thank you,'" Joe Maddon said. "Although it did work against us [Monday]. When it works for you, it's awesome."

Schwarber has stood under the left-field basket many times with his back against the wall, thinking he might be able to make a play on a high fly ball only to see it settle into the wickets and turn into a chance for a Bleacher Bum to show off their arm. 

But is he a huge fan of the basket now that it worked in his favor?

"I guess so," Schwarber laughed. "Yesterday, it cost us, but today, it helped us out. It's just the factor of Wrigley Field. Happy it worked out today."

It was Schwarber's first career walk off RBI of any kind.

It was the Cubs' fourth walk-off homer of the season, but their first since May 11 when Willson Contreras called "game" on the Milwaukee Brewers. 

The Cubs are now 4-1 since the All-Star Break and hold a 2.5-game lead in the division.

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Big changes to the Cubs roster

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USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Big changes to the Cubs roster

Doug Glanville and Ozzie Guillen join Leila Rahimi on Baseball Night in Chicago to discuss all things baseball.

The talk about the trade that sent Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery to the Royals in exchange for Martin Maldonado, Willson Contreras' injury that sent him to the injured list and an update on the White Sox roster moves and rebuild status.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: