Panda Depress: Sandoval’s walkoff in 11th spoils gem by Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks
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SAN FRANCISCO — Pablo Sandoval reached out and slapped a soft single to left field with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning Monday night as the Giants beat the Cubs 2-1 on the extra-inning walkoff.
Back-to-back one-out hits off reliever Steve Cishek by Andrew McCutchen and Brandon Belt put runners at the corners to set the stage for the game-winner.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon brought in Pedro Strop to replace Cishek, brought in left fielder Ben Zobrist as a fifth infielder (for the second straight inning) and intentionally walked Brandon Crawford to set up the force at the plate.
Cishek turned back a 10th-inning threat by the Giants by striking out pinch-hitter Chase d’Arnaud and Steven Duggar after allowing a one-out triple to Hunter Pence on his first pitch in relief of Randy Rosario.
The Cubs scored the only earned run before extra innings, after Ian Happ led off the third with a double to center.
One out later, Albert Almora Jr. single Happ to third. And Addison Russell followed with a grounder to short that missed becoming an inning-ending double play by the margin of a high relay throw to first by second-baseman Alen Hanson — Happ scoring on the play.
Cub first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s first career two-error inning handed the Giants the tying run in the fifth. Rizzo’s first error came when he couldn’t handle second baseman Javy Baez’s cross-body throw on a slow roller leading off the inning.
After a fielder’s choice put speedier Hanson at first instead of hefty Sandoval, Rizzo’s second error followed — when he couldn’t handle a pickoff throw that went all the way down the right field line into the Cubs’ bullpen.
By the time Baez picked it up, Hanson was heading home, eventually sliding under the tag on a close play.
“I just have to catch them. End of story,” said Rizzo, a Gold Glove winner. “It’s one of those freak things. I’ve just got to turn the page real quick.”
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, who had been struggling with mechanics and command this season, found it all in one big start by the Bay.
“The fastball command was finally there and it just opened up the rest of the game for me,” Hendricks said. “I found my lanes, found the arm slot, and it was probably the best changeup I’ve had all year.
“It still wasn’t great in the beginning. It kind of clicked somewhere in th third inning, but it just really felt good. It’s a relief in a way, but still it’s just one outing. I’ve got to ingrain those good habits. Back at it tomorrow.”
The 2016 ERA champ pitched 8 1/3 innings for the longest start of the season for the Cubs, without allowing an earned run.
“That’s the Kyle that we know and love,” Maddon said. “That’s one of the best games I’ve seen him throw. Physically his stuff was that good.
“The velocity was better than normal. The location of the fastball was outstanding. The changeup was a swing-and-miss pitch again.”
He left the game only after issuing a one-out walk to Belt in the ninth on his 109th pitch of the game — his first walk of the night.
Hendricks allowed just five hits and struck out eight in the no-decision.
He lowered his ERA 34 points to 3.93.
He has on start left before the All-Star break, Sunday in San Diego — a start he’s especially looking forward to now.
“Definitely. I knew it was turning around a little bit,” h said. “I felt more good [pitches], even in my past outings. But at this point now you just want to keep rolling, stay on your routine and just try to lock in all those good habits.”