I have to eat my words. In a recent post, I suggested that Kyle Hendricks would never be that type of pitcher who would ever have a Perfect Game or a No- Hitter. Well, last night’s thrilling 4-1 victory over arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals proved me otherwise. Kyle Hendricks took a no hitter into the ninth inning and his legend grew.
The Cubs Magic number is 3, Hendrick’s ERA is 2.03, still the best in the league and his candidacy for the coveted Cy Young award just got closer.
“Unbelievably great,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of Hendricks’ outing. “It’s unfortunate he did not get the no-hitter. They did not get good swings against him all night. He was in charge that entire game. It’s got to catapult him in the minds of people voting right now. That was spectacular.”
The control that Hendricks had was unreal. It was the stuff of legends and even though I was wrong about his no hitter abilities, I will say this; Kyle Hendricks will be in Cooperstown and I will be there to cheer him on. People will be talking about last night’s game for a very long time. The Professor lectured the Cardinals on the mechanics of pitching and control. Wherever he wanted to put the ball, it went there.
“I think every year is different,” Chicago pitcher Jon Lester said. “You have to look at the team, you have to look at the individual. You have to take everything in account. I hope [Hendricks] does get a really good look. What he’s done this year is pretty remarkable, especially the last two and a half months.”
Of course it wasn’t entirely Hendricks doing the work. In no hitter situations, teammates want to play for their pitcher. Hendricks elevated everyone’s game. There was Jason Heyward‘s unbelievable catch in the stands and what about Addison Russell‘s sliding divot making grab? Oh yeah, Kris Bryant did an amazing throw from the infield to preserve this historic game.
“Obviously, [a possible no-hitter] was in my head at the time, so after they made those plays, it kept me going,” Hendricks said. “It opens your eyes when someone makes those plays behind you. It locks you in a little more. It helped me make better pitches, really. You always have a few of those plays in one of those games.”
It’s been a privilege to watch Hendricks since his beginnings a couple of years ago. I wasn’t around to watch the greats like Sandy Koufax or Ferguson Jenkens but watching Hendricks do his thing is the next best thing to watching greatness in sports. He needs to win the Cy Young for what he’s done this season. Not the fastest or the hardest, but he does get batters out.
“It was awesome,” Hendricks said. “That was one of the coolest parts. Everyone so happy for me and had my back the whole game.”