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Apr 10, 2024 7:13 am

Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks aims for first win of season in clash vs. Padres

Cubs, Kyle Hendricks

The Chicago Cubs shook off a brutal bullpen breakdown to even their three-game series with the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.

Next on their fix-it list: Get Kyle Hendricks back on the track that made him one of their most reliable starting pitchers for the last 10 years.

Hendricks will try to bounce back from a couple of rough outings when he starts for visiting Chicago in the series finale against the Padres on Wednesday evening.

The 34-year-old right-hander, who posted ERAs under 4.00 in eight of his first 10 seasons with the team, has been pounded to the tune of an 0-1 record and an 11.74 ERA in his first two starts this year. While he has faced two of the best lineups in baseball — the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers — there still is reason for concern.

In Chicago’s 9-7 win over the Dodgers on Friday, Hendricks lasted only four-plus innings, yielding eight hits and five runs with two walks and four strikeouts. He has made it through just 7 2/3 innings so far, posting an ugly WHIP (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) of 2.739.

The good news for Hendricks is that he has experienced a lot of success against the Padres in his career. He is 8-3 with a 2.74 ERA in 14 starts vs. San Diego, with just 10 walks and 82 strikeouts in 88 2/3 innings.

The Cubs leveled their series with the Padres at one win apiece with a 5-1 decision on Tuesday, scoring all of their runs in the fifth inning while getting 4 2/3 scoreless innings from rookie Ben Brown in his first major league start.

The big hit was a grand slam from Christopher Morel, who jumped on a hanging sweeper from Stephen Kolek and drilled it 431 feet into the second deck behind the left-field wall.

“He didn’t try to do too much with that at-bat,” Chicago manager Craig Counsell said of Morel. “He let the at-bat come to him and put a great swing on a slider.”

Meanwhile, the Padres couldn’t capitalize on the momentum generated by their rally from an 8-0 deficit on Monday en route to a 9-8 victory. They managed a total of four hits off five pitchers in the rematch.

In the series finale, they will turn to former Cubs prospect Dylan Cease, who is coming off a good performance in a no-decision at San Francisco on Friday. The right-hander (0-1, 3.38 ERA) lasted six innings, giving up just four hits and two runs while walking two and fanning seven in a 102-pitch outing.

In five career starts against Chicago, Cease owns a 2-2 record with a 3.45 ERA. He allowed only 20 hits and fanned 36 in 28 2/3 innings during those contests, although he issued 14 walks.

He and San Diego fans hope the offense can get back on track after struggling again on Tuesday. The Monday night explosion overshadowed the fact that in the previous six games, the Padres averaged just 2.5 runs per game.

One cause for encouragement was designated hitter Manny Machado going 2-for-4 with a double on Tuesday after entering the game with a .180 average.

“I can’t speak to how he feels, but I can speak to how it looks, and it has looked good for the last couple games,” first-year San Diego manager Mike Shildt said. “He looks comfortable, he looks on time. Him being able to get on top of that ball and drive it to right field (for a double) is a really good sign for him and us.”

–Field Level Media

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