Right-hander Kyle Hendricks wasn’t happy after his last start against the Reds. He came out flat, and it affected his performance. He did his best to rectify that Tuesday in the Cubs’ 5-4 victory against the Royals.
The night didn’t start out the easiest as he found himself facing an early 1-0 deficit after a three-hit second inning by the Royals, but after getting out of that inning with minimal damage, he began to settle in.
“I was just a little tentative, kind of like battling in the beginning, battling myself,” Hendricks said. “They had a good plan coming in against me, so we kind of had to make the adjustment quick. It took me a few innings to do it, but [Willson] Contreras was on me. He was keeping me locked in. He got me to attack better.”
Hendricks (2-1) found the feel for his curveball after not being able to get the pitch to work for him against the Reds. He threw 17 curveballs against Kansas City, 11 for strikes. Only one was put in play.
He kept his sinker away from the barrel and didn’t allow the Royals to put the ball in the air on a cool night with the wind blowing in at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs’ ace got some run support on a pair of two-run home runs from Jason Heyward and Jason Kipnis.
Hendricks allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings and struck out three without walking a batter. His start was the Cubs’ fifth consecutive quality start and eighth of the season.
“It’s been awesome,” Hendricks said. “I mean, guys have been throwing the ball great. They’ve been going pitch-to-pitch. Just coming right at guys and being aggressive. I tried to fall in line with that. We’re just trying to keep the ball rolling.”
Early work paying off for Cubs’ defense
Being fundamentally sound has been a point of emphasis for manager David Ross, and that message has been well-received by his players. Despite having less time at the park before games because of health and safety protocols, Cubs players have made the most of their pregame work, specifically on the defensive end with bench/infield coach Andy Green and first base/outfield coach Will Venable.
David Bote has benefitted from the extra pregame work, and it translated on the field during Monday’s win over the Royals. Bote made plays on several slow rollers to third base, something he has worked on extensively with Green in recent weeks.
“He works hard over there; he works hard all around the infield,” Kris Bryant said of Bote’s defense. “It’s those little things in the game that don’t get too much attention, but they definitely do change the momentum.”
Bote, 27, has had a strong showing at third base in 2020 after some struggles at the position last season.
‘‘The fact that he’s out there working is, first of all, a great detailed job by our coaching staff, which goes up and down the line with our group,’’ Ross said. ‘‘You’re seeing it. I’ve got great coaches and a team that’s willing to work and get better and pride themselves on that, so that’s just a sign of a team that wants to do something special.”