ST. LOUIS –- Kyle Hendricks doesn’t have anything to prove to himself.
But the Cubs’ velocity-defying right-hander knows that even after a 20-start streak of remarkable pitching, he still has doubters who wonder whether he can handle the heat and blunt force of October baseball.
So Monday’s dominance in St. Louis against the Cardinals might say more to some critics than even his major-league-leading 2.03 ERA – never mind what it might say to Cy Young voters.
“When you look back on it, yeah, I definitely was able to perform well in what was a big situation, and maybe some other people looked at that from the outside,” Hendricks said the day after taking a no-hitter into the ninth-inning to win a game with playoff implications for both teams.
“But that being said, going into a playoff situation, I’m going to have the same mindset, the same approach,” Hendricks added. “I have trust in myself. I believe this year where I am mechanically and mentally I think I have a lot better opportunity to go deeper into a game and go head-to-head against these best lineups that are out there – even the best starters toeing the rubber on the other side.”
Hendricks (15-7) has put together a streak of 20 consecutive starts allowing three or fewer runs – 13 of them allowing one or none.
He does it with a fastball that hovers near 90, an excellent changeup and a curve ball that has become more effective as the season has progressed.
Against potential playoff opponents St. Louis, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Texas and the Mets, he is 4-3 with a 2.29 ERA in eight starts.
And the way he’s pitching, it’s going to be hard to justify pitching him any later than Game 2 at home in the first round of the playoffs.
“I’ve got full confidence,” he said.
Kyle Hendricks by the numbers
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks took a no-hitter into the ninth inning Monday before a homer by Jeremy Hazelbaker ended the bid. It would have been the second of the season for the Cubs (Jake Arrieta, April 21). The story in numbers:
- 110 – Years since the last time the Cardinals were no-hit at home (Brooklyn’s Mal Eason, 1906)
- 33 – Years since anyone pitched a no-hitter in St. Louis (Cardinals’ Bob Forsch against Montreal, Sept. 26, 1983)
- 44 – Years since two different Cubs pitchers threw no-hitters in the same season (Burt Hooton, April 16, and Milt Pappas, Sept. 2, 1972).
- 1.98 – Hendricks’ major-league leading ERA until the Hazelbaker homer (now 2.03).
- 3 – No-hitters Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio predicted in spring training that his staff would pitch this season.
- 4 – Games this season in which a Cubs starter has taken a no-hit bid into the seventh inning (Jon Lester 6 1/3 innings May 15 and 6 2/3 on Sept. 2, Arrieta no-hitter, Hendricks Monday).
- 18 – Consecutive outs recorded by Hendricks between the two walks he allowed, in the second and eighth innings.