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updated: 7/27/2014 6:44 PM

Cubs' Hendricks continues to impress

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  • Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks gets a round of applause after being relieved during the seventh inning Sunday at Wrigley Field. He took the 1-0 loss, giving up only 7 hits and no walks.

      Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks gets a round of applause after being relieved during the seventh inning Sunday at Wrigley Field. He took the 1-0 loss, giving up only 7 hits and no walks.
    Associated Press

 
 

There was a fella in Cooperstown named Greg Maddux picking up a plaque Sunday afternoon.

A little while later, a young right-hander named Kyle Hendricks was matching St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright almost pitch for pitch.

One pitch made the difference as the Cardinals' Matt Holliday homered off Hendricks in the first inning, and that was all the scoring as the Redbirds got out of town with a 1-0 victory and two of three in this series.

Granted, pitchers pitch against lineups and not against the other team's pitcher, but aside from the result, the experience of going against Wainwright was a good one for the rookie Hendricks.

"It was awesome," said Hendricks, who fell to 1-1 but with a nice 2.33 ERA in his third major-league start. "I didn't sleep too much last night because I was so excited. He's obviously one of the best pitchers in the game. Those are the moments you kind of live for, to pitch against the best."

This is as good a time as any for the disclaimer: In no way are we comparing Hendricks to Maddux. But as Hendricks begins his major-league career, Maddux would be a pretty good role model to follow. Neither is a big right-hander. Maddux wasn't an overpowering pitcher, and neither is Hendricks.

While Maddux always was known as a thinking pitcher, Hendricks is a bright young guy with an economics degree from Dartmouth.

"He was one of the best pitchers of all time," Hendricks said. "He was one of my favorites growing up. I got to watch him a little bit when I was young, definitely a guy I want to model my game after. I've been asked about him before, kind of the similarities, and basically if I could have semi as good a career as he had, I'd be happy."

Maddux rarely let Wrigley Field get to him, and Hendricks pitched to the park conditions Sunday. With the wind gusting out to right field, Hendricks kept the ball down and got 11 outs on the ground over his 6⅓ innings.

That included 2 groundball double plays. In all, Hendricks gave up 7 hits while walking none and striking out two.

"It's nice," said first baseman Anthony Rizzo. "He works quick. The groundballs are nice. The double plays are nice. It's all we can ask for, really, especially two days at home now, both days not good days at Wrigley. But he did a really nice job."

As for Wainwright, the Cy Young contender kept up what he's been doing as he improved to 13-5 with a 1.92 ERA, working 7 innings of 5-hit ball.

"He's being himself," Rizzo said. "He's got it all. His changeup, fastball, cutter, curveball, slow curveball. We got a couple hits off him, but it's just not really anything that put a lot of pressure on him."

As for those in positions in authority who watch Hendricks, they're coming away impressed. Since the July 4 trade of pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland, the Cubs have 6 quality starts -- 4 by new ace Jake Arrieta and 2 by Hendricks.

"He's very prepared, and I think for him it's like going to school," manager Rick Renteria said. "When you're prepared and you've got to take a test and you know you're prepared, it's a little easier, when you're not trying to cram. Sometimes you have a tough time getting through it. But it seems like he has a good hold how he's supposed to go about his business.

"You can see it, because he's very calm. Even when we took him out, he was still very calm and had a very good demeanor about him."

bmiles@dailyherald.com

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