For six innings Friday, Cubs starter Jake Arrieta continued what has been a trend for a starting rotation that factored greatly into six consecutive victories coming out of the All-Star break.
But Arrieta’s outing got lost after the Cardinals scored nine runs in the eighth inning of their 11-4 victory. Yet Arrieta’s 97-pitch performance was the latest solid start at a time when the rotation soon will be at full strength again.
Manager Joe Maddon said Kyle Hendricks will return early next week, likely Monday or Tuesday against the White Sox. Hendricks, who last pitched for the Cubs on June 4, has been sidelined with tendinitis in his right hand.
“He’s ready to rock and roll,” Maddon said.
Arrieta, who scattered five hits and allowed two runs, said the starters’ recent run has only bolstered the confidence of a group that will be pivotal if the Cubs hope to stay in the division race.
“We’re at the point of the season now, if you don’t have [your stride] by now, it’s tough to find,” Arrieta said. “You want to try to elevate your game a little bit. Obviously, the competition among the staff — whether it’s talked about it or it goes unsaid — we all want to go out there and follow up the guy before us and have a quality outing or an outing that allows our offense to stay in the game and not allow things to get out of hand.”
Bryant could miss weekend
After missing the game with a sprained left pinkie, third baseman Kris Bryant’s availability will be determined by his ability to grip a bat, Maddon said.
Bryant’s finger, which he injured on a headfirst slide Wednesday against the Braves, still is sore. Maddon said considering Bryant returned sooner than expected from a recent ankle injury, he didn’t want to speculate if Bryant would be able to play at all this weekend against the Cardinals.
Finding his way
Jose Quintana made his first trip to the home clubhouse at Wrigley Field after taking a different way to work than he has been accustomed to. Quintana, who spent six years with the Sox, said it was strange to make his way north on Lake Shore Drive to his new surroundings.
By starting Sunday, Quintana won’t face his former team next week, when the Cubs and Sox will play twice at Wrigley and twice at Guaranteed Rate Field. Quintana said he has other things to focus on instead of worrying about pitching against his former team.
“It’s tough. It’s my old team, but honestly I’m focusing on the Cardinals and the Brewers,” Quintana said. “That’s the contenders for us in the division.”
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