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Hendricks claims ERA lead, chases Cub rotation power ranking lead

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 19: Kyle Hendricks #28 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning of a game at Coors Field on August 19, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 607683793

DENVER – Ladies and gentlemen, your new major-league ERA leader:

Kyle Hendricks.

When the Cubs’ alleged fifth starter beat Coors Field, if not the Rockies, on a rainy Friday night with six impressive innings, he lowered his ERA to 2.16 and only awaited the formality of Saturday night’s Dodgers game becoming official to unseat Clayton Kershaw for the MLB lead.

That’s when Kershaw (1.79), who’s on the disabled list, falls short of having enough innings pitched to qualify.

“It’s really not part of my focus,” said Hendricks, whose only run allowed Friday came on David Dahl’s leadoff homer in the first, in a game delayed by rain for 2 hours, 10 minutes before first pitch.

“I just try to keep the same mindset: simple thoughts,” said Hendricks, who retired 16 of 20 after the homer (with a double play and pickoff along the way) – including 10 of the last 11 he faced.

Hendricks left with a 5-1 lead but watched a 12th win go up in the smoke of the Rockies three-run eighth that tied it.

“Every ballpark has its things,” Hendricks said, citing the wind at Wrigley. “At Coors, obviously the ball flies. My focus is always keeping the ball down anyway. It’s just having simple thoughts, making good pitches. If you make good pitches in any ballpark you can have success.”

If Hendricks isn’t thinking about ERA titles, well, maybe that’s because he’s chasing bigger prizes.

The precision right-hander is in a tight duel with leader Jason Hammel for the top spot in the Sun-Times’ weekly Cub rotation power rankings, which debuted Thursday.

“I’m in the top two? I haven’t seen that,” Hendricks said. “Yeah, that’s more important to me. I’ll take that.”

Notes: According to Elias Sports Bureau, Kris Bryant on Thursday became the first player in major-league history to go 5-for-5 with at least two home runs in a game more than once in a season. He also did it June 27 in Cincinnati (with three homers). “To have that kind of history attached to me is a pretty cool feeling,” he said. “Definitely it was one of those games where you keep the jersey and keep the bat you use.” … The Rockies have scheduled hard-throwing right-hander Jeff Hoffman, their top prospect, to start Saturday against the Cubs in his major-league debut. … Tommy La Stella was scratched from the lineup in AA Tennessee Friday and missed a second straight game since being hit on the foot by a pitch.