It looked at first like we were seeing an unstoppable force against an object that looked anything but immovable. Stephen Strasburg had masterful command of his entire repertoire right out of the gate, while Kyle Hendricks labored a bit and had to work around some early baserunners.
But the title on his business card doesn’t read “Staff Ace” for nothing, so Hendricks just kept on cruising. Though he threw with a great deal less velocity and flair, his professorial lecture of a performance was peppered with filthy stuff. He was staid on the mound, downright impassive, and his face belied no emotion whatsoever.
Heck, Hendricks didn’t even break a sweat, which is something that could not be said for his opponent. As good as he looked, Strasburg appeared to realize that he was walking the razor’s edge. So when Anthony Rendon biffed a bouncer, allowing a Javy Baez to reach, the Cubs pounced. But their rally wasn’t without its doubts.
Hendricks sacrificed Baez over to second and Ben Zobrist flew out harmlessly to center to put the Cubs in a dire situation that grew even more so when Kris Bryant went down 0-2. Yes, the same Kris Bryant who’s drawn the ire of fans for his inability to hit in the clutch. Well, it doesn’t get more clutch than singling in the game’s first run in that situation against a man who’s pitched as well as anyone in the league over the last month-plus.
That was all the offense they’d need, though Anthony Rizzo followed with another single to score Bryant, who had advanced to second on the throw following his own hit. It wasn’t quite like seeing Papa Doc frozen after being eviscerated by B. Rabbit, but Strasburg had been beaten. If there’s another inconsistency in that analogy, it’s that, while Hendricks probably does enjoy mom’s spaghetti, the clubhouse guys have never had to wash vomit from his sweater already.
He’s been money in the postseason and was more than deserving of the Game 1 start, as Christopher Kamka laid out last night:
Lowest career postseason ERA
(min 7 GS)
1.58 G Earnshaw
1.83 W Hoyt
1.98 F Valenzuela
— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) October 7, 2017
We can sometimes ascribe too much to the mental side of the game, but I fully believe the Cubs basically stealing a game in which Strasburg was dealing gives them a decided psychological advantage. That’s not to be confused with the decided schematic advantage Charlie Weis brought with him to Notre Dame, since, you know, Hendricks’ impact was actually positive in the end.
Bryant and Harper film PSA
Las Vegas natives Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper filmed a PSA to raise money for the victims of the tragic mass shooting in their hometown earlier this week.
Zobrist’s brutal leadoff effort
I was happy with Ben Zobrist batting leadoff in Game 1…until he actually started batting. He saw eight pitches, which would be good if I was talking about his first at-bat. But that’s the total he saw over four fruitless trips to the plate, including two at-bats in which saw only one pitch.
While this is by no means indicative of who he is overall as a hitter, it was highly disappointing to see him go out like that. I don’t need to see home runs or even multiple hits, but actually displaying a decent approach would be nice. He’ll have plenty more attempts throughout the remainder of the series, so here’s to hoping we see improvement.
More news and notes
- The Cubs’ win in Washington was the only time a road team has been victorious so far in the 2017 postseason.
- The Yankees somehow managed to blow a huge lead last night, which was at least partially due to Joe Girardi’s refusal to call for a review on what was initially called an HBP. The replay showed that Chad Green’s pitch had hit the knob of Lonnie Chisenhall’s bat, but Girardi explained that he didn’t want to disrupt his pitcher’s rhythm with a long review process. Besides, the Yanks were leading 8-3, so who cares if the call loaded the bases? Francisco Lindor certainly cared, as he bombed a grand slam two pitches later.
- Max Scherzer threw a bullpen session Friday afternoon, which would put him in line for that Game 3 start if it was successful.