Throwback Tuesday: Hendricks beats Kershaw after bad April originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Maybe all Kyle Hendricks needed to break out of his rough patch was to face Clayton Kershaw again.
After all, the last time the two pitchers faced off — Game 6 of the 2016 NLCS — Hendricks threw a brilliant outing to clinch the Cubs’ first pennant since 1945.
Or maybe all he needed was a flip in the calendar, as he’s historically pitched much worse before May in his career (4.78 ERA).
Whatever it is, Hendricks shut down the reigning champion Dodgers in his first start of May, a 7-1 win in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
“I think Kyle looked a lot more like himself from the jump,” manager David Ross said.
Hendricks tossed all seven innings in the opening game of the doubleheader, allowing a run on seven hits. The lone tally off him came via a solo home run in the ninth inning.
Not only is it Hendricks’ longest outing of the season, but the first this season where a Cubs pitcher recorded an out in the seventh.
“He controlled that game from Pitch 1 to the end,” teammate and Cubs center fielder Jake Marisnick said. “He made maybe one mistake there. Other than that, it was unreal.”
Kershaw, meanwhile, pitched just one inning — the shortest start of his career. He called his performance “embarrassing.”
“We’ve been in a good mindset and to go and do that off him early was huge,” Hendricks said of the Cubs’ offense tagging Kershaw for four runs. “Obviously, the kind of pitcher he is, the caliber, a future Hall of Famer.”
Hendricks was coming off a rough outing in Atlanta where he surrendered seven runs on 11 hits in 3 2/3 innings. He said after that game he was “just searching right now.”
The right-hander said he’s still got work to do but Tuesday’s outing was a step in the right direction.
“I did a much better job, just intent wise, going pitch to pitch,” Hendricks said. “[Cubs catcher Willson Contreras] had me locked in on that.
“Better first-pitch strikes, attacking the strike zone,” he added. “Just overall I made a lot more good pitches.”
Hendricks' career ERA after April is now 2.95.
"I think we can expect a lot of that going forward," said of outings like Tuesday. "It’s fun to play behind him when he’s throwing like that."