The Chicago Cubs need to hit much better to avoid being bounced out of the National League championship series by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
And, down 2-0, the Cubs need to be better out of the bullpen.
Kyle Hendricks can't help the Cubs in either area. Well, he could make an unexpected offensive contribution, but his main focus is delivering a quality start against Los Angeles in Game 3 of the NLCS Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
All of the pressure is on the Cubs, so having a cool hand like Hendricks on the mound is ideal.
"Yeah, we're down 2-0," Hendricks said. "Obviously, we know we need to get wins at this point. But approaching it as a must-win is a little extreme. We've just got to go out there and play our brand of baseball."
Cubs starters Jose Quintana and Jon Lester combined to pitch 9⅔ innings in Games 1-2 at Los Angeles, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits and 7 walks.
The bullpen gave up 6 runs on 8 hits and 6 walks in 7 innings, and the Cubs' offense has provided just 3 total runs of support on 7 hits.
The Cubs are in a tough spot, but they won the NLCS over the Dodgers last year after falling behind 2-1, and they overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Indians and won the World Series.
"I think experience teaches you everything," Hendricks said. "Having accomplished it, to come out on the winning end of it on those occasions, I think it helps tremendously. But at the end of the day, that's just a feeling, you know?
"You have to go out there tomorrow and do it, play the game. So that's where our focus is right now. Just pitch to pitch, at-bat to at-bat, grinding out ABs, making great pitches. We know we've got to get some Ws."
Hendricks started Game 1 of the NLDS against Washington and was very good, allowing 2 hits over 7 shutout innings.
He was back on the mound in Game 5 and struggled, allowing 4 runs on 9 hits in 4 innings.
In Game 3 of the NLCS, Hendricks draws Dodgers right-hander Yu Darvish, who is on a nice roll.
Darvish struggled after joining Los Angeles in a July 31 trade from Texas, but he yielded just 1 earned run on 9 hits in 19⅓ innings over his final three starts of the regular season while striking out 21 and issuing 1 walk.
In his start against Arizona in Game 3 of the NLDS, Darvish gave up 1 run on 2 hits in 5 innings, adding 7 strikeouts.
"I saw him a lot in the American League," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "He's very good. We know what he likes to do. Most of the times when you're able to get to pitchers of that quality, they're off with their command a little bit and you get them early in the game.
"When you get guys like that settled in, it becomes increasingly difficult and more difficult to get them as the game is in progress."
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