Hendricks, Bryant offer throwback performances in Cubs win
The championship era isn't over until it's actually over.
The Cubs gave fans at Wrigley Field a glimpse of the glory days during Friday's 10-5 romp over St. Louis. Perhaps it was one last glimpse, but who can tell?
Kyle Hendricks delivered a classic, clutch home victory and Kris Bryant came off the bench to deliver a pinch-hit, 3-run double in the seventh inning. The season may be a lost cause, but the Cubs have won two of three games since the 11-game losing streak ended and they improved to 6-1 against the Cardinals this year.
Bryant was out of the starting lineup for the second straight day due to right-hamstring tightness. With the Cubs leading 4-2 in the seventh and the pitcher's spot due up, it was a perfect chance for Bryant to grab a bat.
Bryant clubbed the first pitch he saw from St. Louis pitcher Junior Fernandez off the wall in left-center for a 3-run double. Bryant left the game immediately in favor of pinch runner Sergio Alcantara, completing as efficient a work day as any ballplayer could have.
If Bryant's double didn't put the game away, then Patrick Wisdom's 2-run homer two batters later surely did. The Cubs collected 12 hits, finishing in double figures for the third time in the last four games. That's a welcome change from the way things had been going for the offense.
"I was really proud of the group, getting out to the early lead, putting the ball in play, not striking out," Cubs manager David Ross said.
Team president Jed Hoyer conceded Thursday the Cubs moved from being buyers to sellers at the trade deadline with the 11-game skid. Closer Craig Kimbrel seems to be the most likely Cubs player traded, but plenty of attention will be focused on Bryant.
Hoyer promised the Cubs will not be in rebuilding mode, which begs the question: If the Cubs don't build around Bryant and Javy Baez -- their two most productive hitters this season -- then who?
Wisdom, Joc Pederson and Jason Heyward all had 2 hits Friday, while Ian Happ delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the fourth when the Cardinals switched from a lefty starter to a righty reliever.
But the inconsistent, injury-plagued supporting cast has been more of a problem than the Cubs' future free agents. Heyward has been hot since June and is still hitting just .211. Happ was the Cubs' offensive star last year but is hitting .186 this season.
Wisdom, at least, ranks second in the majors in at-bats per home run with one every 9.25 at-bats. The Angels' Shohei Ohtani is first at 9.06.
A Cubs player very unlikely to change teams is Hendricks, who is signed through 2024. After shaking off a rough start to the season, Hendricks has gone 9-0 with a 2.56 ERA in his last 11 outings.
After the contest, Hendricks was asked if he's disappointed to once again get no invite to the All-Star Game. He's now tied with the Dodgers' Julio Urias for the most wins in the majors with 11.
"That's never a focus of mine," Hendricks said of never being an all-star. "My focus is always for this team. So I'm here for this team, I'd love to throw all my innings and all my pitches for these guys. So no, it's never something that bothers me. Hopefully one day down the road maybe we can check that box off, but it's going to be real nice to get some time off."
The Cubs got a huge break in the first inning, when with two outs and the bases loaded, Pederson lifted a sinking liner to right. St. Louis outfielder Dylan Carlson made a sliding attempt and had the ball in his glove, but it popped out as he rolled onto the ground. All three runners scored, with Baez doing a nice job of hustling around from first.
Catcher Willson Contreras was beaned in the helmet with a 98 mph fastball from Luis Garcia in the fourth inning. Contreras shook it off and stayed in the game.
Antioch native Paul DeJong homered for the Cardinals as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning.
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls