Veteran Chicago right-hander Kyle Hendricks will aim for his third victory in a row when the Cubs visit the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday evening.
Hendricks (5-4, 3.41 ERA) has won back-to-back starts against the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals, allowing only two runs in 14 innings while walking two and striking out 10.
“I’ve had a chance to face (Hendricks), and it can be a frustrating at-bat,” Cubs outfielder Cameron Maybin said after Hendricks’ last start. “On the other side, facing him for a long time, I (would) tell my other teammates, ‘You know we’re facing Baby Maddux,’ because he can throw the ball wherever he wants to throw it.”
Now comes another important start for the 30-year-old Dartmouth alum.
The Cubs (26-20) opened the season at 13-3, the best record in the majors, but they have gone 13-17 since that time. Chicago has been shut out twice in its past three games after not being shut out in its first 43 games.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee (20-22) has moved within four games of the first-place Cubs in the National League Central. Perhaps more important, the Brewers are only one game behind the second-place Cardinals for a postseason berth.
Milwaukee is coming off its fourth shutout victory of the season and its second in a row. Ryan Braun lifted the Brewers to a 1-0 win in the series opener with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly to deep right field, scoring Christian Yelich.
Brewers left-hander Brett Anderson (2-3, 4.64 ERA) will look to continue his team’s success. He has surrendered four runs in each of his past two starts and is looking for his first victory since Aug. 24.
The 32-year-old veteran is 1-1 with a 2.66 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs, including a 4-2 loss at Wrigley Field on Aug. 13. In that contest, Anderson allowed two runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. He has struck out 19 while issuing only three walks in 20 1/3 innings vs. Chicago in his career.
By comparison, Hendricks is 9-6 with a 2.87 ERA in 22 career starts against Milwaukee.
Brewers outfielder Avisail Garcia will try to stay hot after going 2-for-3 with a walk in the series opener. Garcia started the season in right field but shifted to center after Lorenzo Cain opted out amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s been a grind,” Garcia recently said to reporters. “Most of my career, I’ve been playing right field. At right field, you don’t have to run a lot. That’s the big difference between center field and right field.
“I think I’ve got to cover all the gaps, and playing every day, it’s a grind. But I like to play. I’m a competitive guy. I’m going to play wherever they put me and try to do my best.”
Cubs manager David Ross said he wanted his team to remain optimistic despite the tight loss on Friday.
“I thought all in all, that was a very clean game,” Ross said. “A lot of great pitchers on both sides that were fresh, and we just came out a little short. But I was really proud of the group and the way they played (Friday) and battled. … There’s a lot of positives to take away from that.”
–Field Level Media