PHOENIX — The last time the Cubs played a game, it was the final game of a rough stretch that saw them lose 13 of their final 16 games before the All-Star break. But in their first game of the second half, they got things started on the right foot.
If there was one thing the Cubs offense can still do with the best of ‘em, it’s hit the ball out of the ballpark. While their lineup may look different in a few weeks, there’s still plenty of thump in it right now and they showed it in Friday’s 5-1 win over the DBacks as they slugged three homers in the victory.
“I just think the [All-Star] break was really nice for a lot of us,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “Especially opening up out here. A lot of guys were able to come out early and relax or come out west on vacation a little bit. But I just think that stretch was tough and we really needed that reset at the All-Star break.
With the game tied at 1, Rizzo gave the Cubs a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Rizzo came into the game hitting .350 off left-handed pitching and showed Madison Bumgarner why as he launched a solo homer in the fourth inning to make it a 2-1 game.
Third baseman Patrick Wisdom had a breakout first half with 12 homers in 43 games and started his second half in similar fashion by hitting a towering solo shot to make it a 3-1 Cubs lead.
“I think these guys just came out and played nice baseball,” manager David Ross said. “I just think we got good starting pitching and we got timely hitting.”
But the Cubs would get one more big swing on the night. Jason Heyward had never hit a pinch-hit homer in his career, but in the seventh inning, he got his opportunity and didn’t miss it. Heyward’s pinch-hit, two-run blast put the game out of reach.
The offense was more than enough for starter Kyle Hendricks, who won his 12th game of the season on Friday. The victory ties him with Dodgers starter Luis Urias for the MLB lead. Hendricks tossed six innings of one-run ball in the victory, lowering his season ERA to 3.65 in the process.
The Cubs’ right-hander has now gone at least six innings in 13 of his last 14 starts.
“Wanted to set a good tone,” Hendricks said. “Obviously, winning being the main goal. ... We’re just focused on staying in the moment. Leave the past in the past. We’ve tried to come into today with a little fresh start and focus on the game today.”