Cubs win Cactus League opener as Kyle Hendricks dominates San Diego

(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images) /

Hey, a win is a win.

The Chicago Cubs managed just one run on two hits in Monday’s Cactus League opener against the San Diego Padres, but that’s all it took to knock off one of the most hyped teams in the league.

Presumptive Chicago Opening Day starter Kyle Hendricks tossed a pair of scoreless frames before handing things over to the bullpen – and made sure to praise the defense behind him after the game. While there are plenty of questions regarding this Cubs team, that’s one area the club should be solid in 2021.

"“It’s obviously one of the most important things, if not the most important thing,” Hendricks said. “And we’ve put a huge emphasis on that, especially with the guys we’re running out there. I know, for me, I rely on soft contact; I rely on balls in play. So those guys behind me making plays like that, it’s awesome to see.”"

Hendricks struck out two and allowed just one hit in his first spring tune-up. The five relievers who followed him threw up goose eggs, as well, letting the Cubs squeeze out the 1-0 victory. The team’s only tally came via a PJ Higgins RBI groundout in the top of the fifth.

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That’s notable because given the trade rumors that have surrounded Willson Contreras, Higgins could end up being an important piece of the puzzle in years to come.

Non-roster invitee and former All-Star Shelby Miller came on in the third in relief of Hendricks and worked around a pair of base hits with another double play, courtesy of the Cubs defense. Rex Brothers, Joe Biagini, Tyson Miller and Trevor Megill all added scoreless innings out of the pen in the game, which was limited to seven frames – as almost all the team’s Cactus League games will be.

Cubs: Offense shows signs of rust while pitching, defense stand out

The only two Cubs hitters with base hits in the victory came from Javier Baez and Ildemaro Vargas. On the afternoon, Chicago drew three walks, struck out five times and went just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position.

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Like I said. It’s one game. It wasn’t pretty. The offense mustered just two hits. But at the end of the day, we got to fly the W for the first time in 2021. The Cubs are back in action for their Sloan Park opener on Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals. Right-hander Adbert Alzolay will take the ball for his first start of spring training.