Cubs

Observations: Cubs' bats ride HR to clinch Cards series

Cubs
USA TODAY

The Cubs beat the Cardinals 7-2 Saturday night, improving to 37-27 this season.

Here are 10 observations from the game.

1. Kyle Hendricks entered Saturday leading MLB in home runs allowed (17). That was before Nolan Arenado and Paul DeJong hit solo blasts off him in the second and third innings. Thirteen of the 19 home runs off Hendricks this season are of the solo variety.

2. Hendricks settled in nicely after the third inning, when St. Louis had two on and out after DeJong's home run but didn't score. He retired the final 11 batters he faced, tossing six innings of three-hit, two-run ball, walking one.

"That was a big part of the game," David Ross said of Hendricks' third. "Him holding it and limiting the damage right there was really important."

3. After a rough start to the season, Hendricks has really come on strong since May. Saturday was his sixth straight quality start and seventh in his last eight outings, during which he has a 3.12 ERA.

4. A patient Cubs approach knocked Cardinals starter John Gant out of the game after just 1 2/3 innings. Gant threw 48 pitches in the second inning, walking five Cubs, including Hendricks. Kris Bryant drew a free pass with the bases loaded, ending Gant’s night.

"That was our goal as that inning gets going," Ian Happ said, "is pushing that pitch count up high enough, scoring a few more runs and then being able to get into their bullpen early in the middle of a series."

 

5. The Cubs offense tallied more walks (eight) than hits (five) but made the latter count. Happ (two-run homer), Joc Pederson (solo homer), Javy Báez (RBI single) and Sergio Alcántara (solo homer) powered the offensive attack.

6. Pederson’s power has been on full display in the month of June. The outfielder has five home runs in his last eight games, after hitting just four in his first 41 games (through June 2).

"He has really good at-bats every time he's in the box," Ross said of Pederson. "He's a big part of our success for sure."

7. Pederson’s home run trots have become must-see events. After Saturday’s blast, he pointed to the bleachers rounding second base, tugged on his jersey collar as he neared third and then broke out a stutter-step.

8. When Alcántara gets a hit, there’s a good chance it will go for extra bases. With Saturday’s home run, seven of his nine hits this season are for extra bases. He’s gone deep in two of his last three games.

9. Bryant started at third base, his first appearance there since April 20. He had one groundball hit his way, a 5-3 putout in the sixth, before moving to left field in the seventh.

10. In the midst of a challenging June schedule, the Cubs are now a season-high 10 games above .500.

On deck: The Cubs go for a sweep of the Cardinals on Sunday Night Baseball. First pitch is 6:08 p.m. CT. Zach Davies (3-3, 4.45 ERA) and Carlos Martínez (3-6, 6.21 ERA) are the probable starters.

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