Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks continues to battle long ball, first inning woes

(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

The long ball and a shaky first highlighted Kyle Hendricks‘ first start of the second half as the Chicago Cubs rallied to beat the St. Louis Cardinals.

Before the All-Star Break, I touched on how important Kyle Hendricks is to this Chicago Cubs team. Without him backing up Jon Lester atop the rotation, a dramatic gap exists between the team’s ace and the other four starters on this club.

On Friday, Jon Lester aims for his National League-leading 13th win at Wrigley against the rival St. Louis Cardinals. And, although Chicago came away with the victory in the series opener, Hendricks struggled again.

He lasted just 4 2/3 innings, throwing a staggering 113 pitches and allowing three runs. It took him 27 pitches to get through the first, during which he served up a moonshot blast to Tommy Pham. Thankfully, the bats broke out against Carlos Martinez in the fifth, hanging five runs on the board.

The team added a trio of runs in the late innings, holding off St. Louis for their NL-best 56th win of the season. But afterward, one can’t help but ponder Hendricks’ struggles as we near the end of July and a critical stretch of games coming up.