Chicago Cubs: Kyle Hendricks stellar in sweep of Giants

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

The first two affairs of the Cubs-Giants series were back-and-forth affairs that left you biting your nails at every turn. Thursday was a bit different, and a little more relaxing of a watch.

A 5-3 win on Tuesday and a see-saw 12-11 win on Wednesday had the Chicago Cubs heading into Thursday looking for a sweep of the San Francisco Giants. A win would give them the season series.

Kyle Hendricks took the hill and went up against former Cub, Jeff Samardzija. Both pitchers were locked in from the get-go.

The game would stay scoreless with just two base runners through the first 3 1/2 innings. The Cubs broke through in the fourth. A little help from the sun gave Jason Heyward a single to lead off, and Nick Castellanos would reach on an error. Kris Bryant would ground into a double play, and Anthony Rizzo would single home Heyward, 1-0 Cubs.

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Hendricks would cruise through seven innings without much of a threat. Brandon Kintzler got the first two outs of the eighth and gave up a two-out triple to Brandon Crawford before Kyle Ryan came in and finished off the inning. The Cubs would make it look easy in the ninth to win their first 1-0 game of the season.

The home-road splits from this team continue to be such a weird anomaly. 44-19 is the 2nd best home record in the National League behind the Dodgers, of course. 25-39 on the road, however? That’s the 2nd worst road record in the league, just a half-game ahead of Colorado.

This sweep was important because not only did the Cubs find a way to win, and they have taken over first place again. The Cardinals play the Rockies for four games this weekend, starting tonight, so the Cubs could use any win they can get.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier, as the Washington Nationals come to Wrigley for three days. The Cubs beat the Nats two out of three in D.C. back in May, which was the last road series the Cubs won until this last weekend in Pittsburgh unless you don’t count the Little League Classic.

The home/road splits aren’t exclusive to the record, either, it’s affecting players too. Hendricks now has a 1.80 ERA in 11 home starts, and a 4.76 ERA in 13 road starts. Baseball is a weird game, and sometimes it stands out in stats like that.

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During this series, the Cubs cracked their 200th home run of the season, and it was a big one. Bryant’s two-run home run in the eighth inning propelled the Cubs to the 12-11 win on Wednesday against the Giants. His last three home runs have been of the go-ahead variety late in games.

Anibal Sanchez will face Jon Lester in the pitching matchup for tomorrow’s series opener vs. the Nationals. The first pitch for all three games this weekend is 1:20.