As he walked off the mound after failing to document an out within the ninth inning of Tuesday’s win, Kyle Hendricks dropped a pair of what my rudimentary lip-reading abilities discerned as F-bombs. What’s exceptional isn’t that he was a bit cheesed, however that the 2 fudge pops equaled the mixed variety of runs and walks he’d allowed over his final 25 innings of labor.
How’s that for candy emotion, huh?
The stoic starter wasn’t mad at Joe Maddon for giving him the hook, he was upset with himself for letting rookie Nick Senzel beat him. The late stroll in all probability value Hendricks his second full recreation in his final three begins and compelled his exit from the sport. Not as a result of he’d thrown too many pitches, however as a result of Joey Votto — the person whose 4th-inning homer was the one run Hendricks has given up in these three video games — was due up.
Maddon mentioned afterwards that he’d have caught together with his starter had it been some other Reds hitter stepping up, and Hendricks knew it as quickly as ball 4 sailed excessive to Senzel. With the tying run on the plate and an opportunity to get a extra favorable matchup, it solely made sense. No have to danger having the house workforce truly surpass the visiting pitcher when it comes to hits or runs pushed in.
Yeah, that’s proper: Hendricks helped his personal trigger with a two-run double earlier within the recreation, the primary of his three hits on the night.
“I didn’t even know what was going on out there,” Hendricks joked after the game with what gave the impression to be an honest-to-goodness grin. “Just having fun with the guys in the dugout, though, for sure. Yeah, that was a lot of fun.”
Whoa, whoa, who changed our stodgy Professor with this hedonistic undergrad? I’m unsure this type of “fun” enterprise is indicative of the form of edge and urgency we had been instructed to count on from this workforce. Theo Epstein had higher get his ass to a telephone stat and punch up Alex Anthopoulos in Atlanta to see about buying and selling for crusty backstop Brian McCann.
Fortunately, Hendricks’ bout of revelry was short-lived and he acquired again all the way down to enterprise when speaking about his efficiency.
“My fastball was really good again, the command, kinda from the start,” he defined with nary a hint of humor. “It begins with the mindset once more. The previous couple of begins I’ve been on a roll with that, and Willy [Contreras] and I are simply locked in on the identical web page so each pitch he is aware of what I’m eager to do and I do know what he’s kinda pondering.
“So it helps a lot. We’re going at a great tempo and everything’s working off my fastball right now.”
Okay, that’s extra prefer it. Perhaps Epstein can maintain off on dialing 9-1-1 for Officer McCann of the MLB Enjoyable Police. In all seriousness, as a result of we’d like extra of that round these components, it’s good to see and listen to Hendricks vibing so properly with Willson Contreras. The exuberant catcher doesn’t have a reputation for being the quietest receiver and his model hasn’t at all times appeared to mesh with members of the rotation.
Because the season has gone on, nonetheless, it appears as if the entire workforce has found that slipstream wherein everybody is ready to transfer effortlessly as one.
“I like what it looks like right now,” Maddon said before the game. “I mean, the vibe cannot be topped. The feeling among the group is outstanding.”
That feeling isn’t perpetually self-sustaining, although, it must be fed and fostered with performances just like the one Hendricks put up Tuesday evening. You’ll be able to see it in the best way Albert Almora Jr. went to the wall to rob Derek Dietrich or how Daniel Descalso laid out to make a cease on a Tucker Barnhart grounder to finish a risk within the fifth inning.
The very best groups discover methods to make issues occur, not solely as a result of they’ve elite expertise, however as a result of all of them draw from each other to grow to be higher than they might be as people. Does that sound tacky? In all probability. Doesn’t imply it’s not true.
Neither is it at all times straightforward. The Cubs fell flat on their collective face after an Opening Day win, simply as Hendricks battled command and management issues over the course of his first few begins. However dude is on one now, perhaps at a better stage than we’ve ever seen him obtain prior to now. And to listen to him describe it, he may nonetheless enhance.
“I’m doing a lot better things,” Hendricks admitted. “Early within the season I used to be simply making so many dangerous pitches. A minimum of immediately, I’m making a pair dangerous pitches nonetheless, however not less than my mindset’s there.
“I’m being aggressive, conviction.”