Kyle Hendricks didn’t see much of the Cubs’ pregame tribute to Kris Bryant before a 6-1 loss to the Giants on Friday in the opener of a three-game series at Wrigley Field. He was getting ready to pitch.
He could hear it, though.
“He deserves all that,” Hendricks said. “So I know he was probably going through a lot today, a lot of different emotions.”
Hendricks didn’t go easy on his former teammate. He fanned Bryant on a changeup with two men on in the first, struck him out again on a foul tip in the fourth and retired him once more in the sixth, this time on a softly hit ground ball.
“We had a good game plan going in,” Hendricks said. “Luckily, I just executed against him specifically. I executed pretty much every pitch. You make mistakes on him, that’s where he’s going to hurt you.”
Mistakes over the middle of the plate were Hendricks’ undoing over his previous five starts, a gnarly stretch marked by an un-“Professor”-like 9.69 ERA. This time, he was much better, allowing just one run in the sixth, his final inning — although that run tied the score and cost him a shot at his 15th victory.
The key for Hendricks in his 29th start was the same as it always is: living in the lower part of the strike zone. When he does that, it turns out he’s pretty good.
“I needed it mentally to see myself be able to do that,” he said. “Just with the few [starts] I have left, try to keep that rolling.”
Bryant walked against reliever Michael Rucker in the eighth and later scored on Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly for the Giants’ final run.
The Giants are good
Hendricks didn’t give the postseason-bound Giants much of an opening, but when Trevor Megill (1-1) took the mound in the seventh, things instantly fell apart. Megill’s brutal day went like this: base hit, home run, base hit, wild pitch, walk — and a hook from interim manager Andy Green.
“There’s been some flashes of great stuff,” Green said. “I think his last four outings [were] lights-out, coming in punching guys out, attacking guys. It’s the type that you can look at and you can dream on. . . . We put him back in a big one today, in a 1-1 game against a very good club, maybe the best club in the National League, and this one didn’t go well.”
The Giants have won five in a row and took a three-game lead over the Dodgers, who played late Friday, in the NL West.
The Cubs’ offense mustered all of two hits off eight Giants pitchers, but one of them was another homer off the bat of Frank Schwindel. That gave the Cubs at least one long ball in 16 straight games, their longest streak since the 1998 wild-card team reached 17.
Oh, and the second Cubs hit? Schwindel, too, of course. It’s just what the man does.
The Cubs recalled Tommy Nance from Triple-A Iowa to take the place of fellow reliever Adam Morgan (bereavement list). Nance pitched a scoreless ninth.