Chicago Cubs: Bats come alive, Kyle Hendricks strong on the mound

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

Kyle Hendricks twirled a gem as the Chicago Cubs offense awoke from their slumber to split a brief two-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers.

We all, as Chicago Cubs fans, can take a collective deep breath. Facing the prospects of Milwaukee pulling within one game of them in the National League Central, Joe Maddon‘s club answered the call and put up a lopsided 7-0 win.

I’m not sure what I was happier with: getting six shutout frames from Kyle Hendricks (or really, any starter not named Cole Hamels at this point) or the offense finally not looking lost as they have for much of the last week. Regardless, the win pushed the Brewers back to three games out of first as the Cardinals maintained the pace and remain four games out.

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Aside from the much-needed win, one of our writers believes the Cubs would be best served by extending Maddon sooner rather than later. Of course, the 64-year-old skipper has one year remaining on his initial five-year contract and is one of just four Cubs managers with a .600 or better winning percentage.

Not to mention, he’s led the team to three-straight NLCS appearances, including a World Series title. But who cares, right? That’s in the past. (Note: Do not be one of those people – just don’t.)

Maddon could get a big boost if some of his big-name guys get healthy. Namely, a healthy, rejuvenated Yu Darvish. The big right-hander tossed a simulated game and could be nearing his first rehab start. Such an outing would mark his first game action since May 20.

His teammate and fellow starter Jose Quintana, though, may always be the most heavily-criticized member of the Chicago Cubs rotation. Why? Because Theo Epstein paid an incredibly high price to acquire the left-hander – and the two prospects that headed to the South Side look ready to become stars.

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The Cubs need to extend Maddon sooner rather than later – Cubbies Crib

Happ helps close out win with great catch in the ivy – Bleacher Nation

Quintana will always be Cubs’ most criticized starter – Cubbies Crib

Morrow still not throwing off mound; Hickey optimistic – Cubs Insider

Darvish nearing a much-anticipated return to the mound? – Cubbies Crib

Next. Are the Cardinals the Cubs' biggest threat in the Central?. dark

What’s Next

Chicago opens a four-game weekend series in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Jon Lester (12-5, 3.89) hopes to shake his second-half struggles against right-hander Ivan Nova (7-6, 4.42).