Chicago Cubs ride the long ball, dominant Kyle Hendricks to victory

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /
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A stellar outing from Kyle Hendricks and several clutch home runs powered the Chicago Cubs to a fourth-straight victory on Monday night at Wrigley Field.

96. 6. 9. Final. 5

It’s pretty rare when the starting pitcher allows one hit while pitching into the seventh and doesn’t get much attention or credit for his work, but that’s pretty much what happened to Kyle Hendricks. The soft-tossing right-hander twirled a gem, but all most folks are going to talk about is the late-inning offensive onslaight the Chicago Cubs unleashed (and the subsequent bullpen unraveling).

After Rowan Wick induced an inning-ending double play after coming on in relief of Hendricks, preserving a 2-2 tied game in the seventh, the bats stole the show in a hurry.

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Last year’s National League MVP runner-up Javier Baez blasted his 27th homer of the year, a game-tying mammoth shot into the left-center field seats in the sixth, tying the game. One inning later, pinch hitter Ian Happ stepped in and added a monster shot of his own, a solo shot that put the Cubs on top for good.

But the offense didn’t stop there. Jason Heyward singled and quickly scored on Nicholas Castellanos‘ league-leading 40th double of the year, making it a 4-2 game. After Kris Bryant grounded out and Anthony Rizzo went down on strikes, Baez struck again, blasting a two-run shot into the basket to blow things wide open.

Cishek implodes in an eventful eighth inning

With Happ pinch-hitting for Wick, the Cubs turned to usually reliable right-hander Steve Cishek to handle things in the eighth. ‘Usually reliable’ being the operative terms in this case.

After a lengthy battle, Nick Martini hit a solo shot into the right-field seats. Semien followed it up with another homer, his second on the night, turning what looked like a soon-to-be lopsided Cubs win into a one-run ballgame.

Now, one outing does not a season make. But on the heels of learning that Kimbrel would be unavailable for the next week-and-a-half, seeing Cishek face four batters and allow a pair of homers and a walk isn’t exactly encouraging. He’ll have to shake it off and have a short memory if the Cubs are to weather their closer’s injury.

Another stellar outing from Hendricks

Although he didn’t factor into the decision, Hendricks played an integral role in the Cubs’ win. The only runs he allowed came via a two-run shot off the bat of Marcus Semien early in the ballgame – and that marked the only hit the right-hander allowed, as well.

All told, he walked a pair and struck out five – lowering his earned run average on the year to an impressive 3.06 – the eighth-lowest mark among NL starters. Heading into Monday’s outing, you felt pretty good about giving him the ball. In his Wrigley Field starts this year, he came into his start against Oakland with some ridiculous numbers: a 1.89 ERA, 0.889 WHIP and 6.11 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

So, really, it’s more of the same for Hendricks and the Cubs – a lot of good ole’ fashioned home cooking.

Castellanos is hot – Bryant is not

Man, talk about getting hot at the perfect time. Castellanos turned in another big-time performance on Monday, going 3-for-4 with a double and his first Cubs homer, a solo shot to get things going.

But on the other side of the coin, Kris Bryant continued to struggle – going 0-for-4 with three groundouts and a popout. At this point, there’s little doubt in my mind that something is up with the slugger. It’s just a matter of if the Cubs are going to do anything about it.

Next. Contreras injury will test this Cubs team in a big way. dark

What’s Next?

Chicago and Oakland continue this three-game series Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Former Cub Brett Anderson takes the ball for the Athletics opposite veteran southpaw Jon Lester.

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