Chicago Cubs: Positives and negatives from series sweep vs. Cardinals

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs, Kyle Hendricks
(Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Cubs got a brilliant performance from Kyle Hendricks in the first game of the series.

The Chicago Cubs were the recipient of perhaps Kyle Hendricks’ best regular season start of his career. He needed just 81 pitches for a complete game shutout in what is referred to as “a Maddux” game. Hendricks is often compared to Greg Maddux, so this is actually quite fitting that this happened.

Hendricks threw just 18 balls while striking out three batters and didn’t allow any free passes. He had a tough month of April with a 5.33 ERA, but his walk and strikeout rates were in line with his career averages (via Fangraphs). So what was the difference? Hendricks was leaving his secondary pitches too far up in the zone and allowed a career-high opponents batting average of 0.339 in the month of April.

I’ll be honest. I thought Hendricks was going to struggle in his start against a much improved St. Louis Cardinals offense. I’ve never been more happy to have been proven wrong.

Javier Baez is batting 0.349 over his last ten games while hitting five home runs with nine runs-batted-in and taking three walks. He is so critical to the middle part of the batting order, so usually when he’s hot so is the team. The Cardinals had a chance to get Baez out on Saturday but Kolten Wong could not reel in a pop-up foul ball. A few pitches later, he hit a solo bomb to the right field bleachers.

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Perhaps the highlight of the weekend (at least offensively) was Taylor Davis‘ grand slam in the fourth inning on Saturday. If you recall, Kyle Schwarber was intentionally walked to get to Davis and he made Michael Wacha pay.

Flash forward to Sunday night and Kris Bryant also hit a grand slam of his own.  Bryant would finish the weekend 4-for-9, five runs-batted-in, and four walks.