PHOENIX – Back to the drawing board – and back to Wrigley Field – for Kyle Hendricks.
The former ERA champ continued his first-inning struggles Friday night in a series-opening 8-3 loss to the Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Arizona – just a week after pitching seven scoreless innings to beat the same team at home.
Hendricks gave up three runs on four hits in the first inning Friday – eventually tying his career high with seven runs surrendered during his five-inning start.
He has allowed nine runs in the first inning in his five starts this season, five of those runs earned as opponents have gone 11-for-24 (.458) against him in the first.
Hendricks said the problems Friday were less about early lapses than overall conviction in his pitches.
“I just didn’t make good pitches,” said Hendricks, who trailed by just one with two out and nobody on in the fifth until four straight reached base for three runs. “The command wasn’t there.”
If there’s an upside as he looks ahead at his next scheduled start, Friday against the Cardinals – it’s that it comes at Wrigley Field, where he has made his best two starts so far (two runs in 12 innings).
Meanwhile, the Cubs have lost back-to-back games for the first time since their six-game losing streak during the first road trip of the season. They had won nine of 11 before Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, have won nine of their past 11, with their only two losses in that stretch coming against the Cubs last weekend at Wrigley field.
Maples up, Rosario down
The Cubs recalled power right-hander Dillon Maples and optioned left-hander Randy Rosario to Class AAA Iowa as they approached a stretch of games against mostly right-handed lineups.
Maples, whose upper-90s fastball makes him currently the hardest-throwing reliever on the staff, made his season debut and walked the first two batters he faced in the sixth because he was unable to locate his fastball, then struck out the next three on his above-average slider.
“If he throws that fastball for a strike, that slider becomes devastating,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I guess he’s been doing that.”
Until Friday at least.
Command of the fastball has been the only thing keeping Maples from sticking in the big leagues after two brief stints the last two years.
“It’s still one of those things where you just right that wave,” said Maples, who had recovered from a miserable first three appearances in the minors. “And it’s been feeling good so I’ve got a lot of confidence in it right now.”
Maples, the 13th pitcher used out of the Cubs’ bullpen less than a month into the season, allowed only two hits, both singles and one of them an infield hit in seven minor-league appearances.
With Rosario out, the Cubs have only one lefty among eight relievers.
This and that
Left-hander Mike Montgomery (lat strain) is scheduled to make his third minor-league rehab start Saturday with Class AAA Iowa.
• Albert Almora Jr. tied last year’s career high with four hits Friday.
• Kris Bryant, who has been slowly heating up over the past week, homered for the first time since the season opener.
• Maddon’s Post, the manager’s new restaurant adjacent to Wrigley Field, is scheduled to open May 14 as the Cubs open a six-game road trip in Cincinnati.