The Rundown: Kyle Hendricks Impresses Himself, Tony 2 Chainz Gets Swaggy, Big Series with Milwaukee Looms

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Kyle Hendricks was dealing on a Wednesday night in Cleveland and may have been lifted from the game a little earlier than necessary. Scratch that, it was definitely earlier than necessary. Not that it really mattered, since he’d baffled his opponents thoroughly enough that they’d never have been able to stage a real rally against the bullpen.

Hendricks went six innings, allowing a single run to lower his ERA to 3.08 on the season, and notched five strikeouts with no walks. One of those K’s was the kind even the stoic Hendricks found impressive. With two outs and an 0-2 count against former teammate Mike Freeman, Hendricks followed a high fastball with a changeup that tumbled low and away from the lefty batter. Dude never had a chance.


Just like the previous night, Hendricks had to stay sharp early to let his offense get a feel for Carlos Carrasco. The only tally through the first four innings came by way of Anthony Rizzo, who was sporting a pair of gold chains that could be seen jumping double Dutch on his neck and chest as he trotted out a laser-beam homer to lead off the 3rd.

Did anyone who read yesterday’s column recognize the significance of Rizzo showing more drip than the low-flow shower heads the president keeps bitching about? That’s right, the walk up song featured 2 Chainz, which I take as another sign of my powers to influence real-world events with my writing.

“Those things are heavy,” David Ross joked after the game. “I don’t even know if I could hold those around my neck. Rizz, whatever works, right? This is baseball. We’ll do anything for knocks.”

Your 16th-favorite Cubs blogger may have purchased a pair of chains — Cuban links and not real gold, of course — for his son after the kid saw Rizzo’s accessories. Now as long as he doesn’t again dog it on a deep fly to center that he thought was gone.

In any case, the first baseman got things started two innings later with a single that started an eventual three-run rally and effectively put the game out of reach. A booming Kris Bryant homer in the 6th, which came just after a diving attempt in left that saw him roll over his wrist, added to the lead. Speaking of KB’s wrist, the review of that play took entirely too long and is an example of MLB’s skewed priorities.

If pace of play is an issue, what is the purpose of a 5-minute review that wastes more time than any number of no-pitch intentional walks could save? Give them 60 seconds, 90 at the most, and if the review isn’t conclusive and obvious the play stands. Of course, I also disagree with the idea of letting the call on the field determine the burden of proof for replay, since the whole point is that we’re trying to eliminate human fallibility.

And while we’re on the topic of humans and bad calls, how about the amoeba zone from Tim Timmons that had both benches chirping at him all night? He even went so far as to ring up Willson Contreras on a check swing that shouldn’t have been his call to make, then tossed the catcher when he slammed his bat down in frustration. The ump then spent the rest of the inning paying more attention to the Cubs dugout than to the job he’s paid to do.

There was a hope that prima donna umpires might be kept in check by the lack of an immediate audience, but it’s clear that being able to hear everything from both teams has them at least as keyed up as before. Perhaps things would be better if, I don’t know, the calls were consistent and they didn’t it so personally when they’re called out for doing a really bad job.

Cubs News & Notes

  • The Cubs are 12-3 at the quarter pole, putting them on pace to finish 48-12.
  • The only other team in MLB with just three losses is the Cardinals, and they’ve only played five games.
  • The Cubs’ 5.5 game lead in the Central is larger than the gap from first to fifth in three other divisions. The AL West has the next-biggest gap, with Oakland 4 games up on the Rangers but only 6.5 games up on last-place Seattle.
  • With four games against the Brewers back home at Wrigley over the weekend, that lead could balloon further. Maybe the Pirates can make themselves useful as they face the Reds in Cincy.
  • Javy Báez and Francisco Lindor are joys to watch on their own, so seeing them on the field together was something special.
  • Rowan Wick struck out three batters in 1.1 innings of work and had that spike-curve working quite well.
  • Dan Winkler, on the other hand, walked two batters and allowed a run while recording two outs. He has issued six walks in just 3.1 innings and has only held an opponent scoreless in one of four outings. That has to improve.

How About That

Derek Dietrich got his MLB shot pretty quickly after being released by the Cubs, and he made it count. The oiled-up utilityman started at second and went 3-for-3 with a double and two runs.

Veteran righty Zack Greinke got frustrated with the time it was taking to share signs with catcher Martin Maldonado, so he just started going with hand signals when there was a man on second. On Wednesday night, he took it a step further and was actually calling out which signs they were using while pointing out location.

Former Cub DJ LeMahieu went 4-for-5 to raise his AL-leading batting average to .431 on the season.

Odds & Sods

Miguel Sanó hit a home run Statcast tracked at 442 feet in his team’s 12-2 victory over the Brewers. The only thing is, no one saw the ball land.

They Said It

It seems like there’s not really a letdown in our lineup. I can’t really remember a time playing for this team where it was really like that, where one through nine there was just damage all through the order. I think it shows in our record. – Kris Bryant

When you take someone’s livelihood … to save your own ass, that’s what I don’t like. Cheating? They cheated. Everyone knows they’re cheaters. They know they’re cheaters. It’s over. That’s been there, done that. But now they mess it up by ruining other people’s lives, so they f—ed it up twice. … When you taint someone’s name to save your own name, this is one of the worst things that you could probably do. …That really friggin’ bugs me. I think I’ll be irritated forever. – Joe Kelly

Thursday Walk Up Song

Sweet Home Chicago – I’m going to be in the Windy City for the weekend, so look for me on the Wrigley View rooftop Friday evening.

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