Chicago Cubs: As fans panicked, Hendricks stays cool and calm
Remember when Cubs fans everywhere pushed the panic button in the 2016 NLCS against the Dodgers? After winning Game 1 (thanks again Miguel Montero), the bats went silent over the next two games. Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill blanked Chicago, holding the Cubs to just six hits.
But even after the Cubs rallied to take the next two games in Los Angeles, they would still have to beat Kershaw in order to reach their first World Series since 1945.
Yet for all of Kershaw’s dominance in the regular season, his postseason woes resurfaced in Game 6, as the Cubs scored five runs off of the left-hander… which was more than enough for Kyle Hendricks.
Even though he was the MLB’s ERA champ (with a sterling 2.13 mark) in 2016, Hendricks had fallen on hard luck in this postseason. He was struck by a liner in Game 2 of the NLDS which forced him to exit that start, then was outdueled by Kershaw in Game 2 of the NLCS.
More from Chicago Cubs News
- Cubs should keep close eye on non-tender candidate Cody Bellinger
- Cubs starting pitching has been thriving on the North Side
- Make no mistake: the Cubs are very much about power hitters
- Cubs: It’s time to start thinking about potential September call-ups
- Cubs: P.J. Higgins deserves to be in the lineup on a daily basis
But this time, the emerging right-hander would not be denied. Hendricks pitched the game of his life, allowing just two hits and striking out six in 7 1/3 innings. It was a steady and calculated performance that seemed to perfectly resonate with Hendricks’ persona as “The Professor.”
The roars had come early thanks to big home runs by Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras, but none were louder than when Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play to end the game. Elderly fans in the stands burst into tears while beer flew everywhere, and somewhere in the luxury boxes was Theo Epstein, on the receiving end of a bear-hug from Eddie Vedder.
For me, this was a moment of elation and relief. I had always wondered what this moment would feel like if and when I had the chance to experience it, but as a baseball fan I also could not help but to feel gratified. The Cubs truly had been the best team in baseball all season, and now had a chance to capture their first World Series title in 108 years.