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The Cubs righthander had his best outing of 2019.
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"Kyle Hendricks’ first three starts this season were generally ones he Joe Maddon Jersey , and we, would like to forget: far too many base hits and walks allowed, a WHIP over 2, and three Cubs losses. It was said that Kyle needed to make some minor mechanical tweaks to get back to where he’d been the last three seasons.Whatever he did worked perfectly, as Friday’s outing was vintage Kyle, with weak contact induced for groundouts and strikeouts achieved on his excellent changeup. The allowed just three singles — one of them literally off him, his body, in the seventh — and struck out 11, helping lead the Cubs to their fourth straight win, 5-1 over the Diamondbacks on a cold, very windy day at Wrigley Field.Windy? The announced wind speed at game time was 26 miles per hour, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that high. The wind forced some balls that would have been infield outs into the seats, and the dome-team D-backs were running all over the place chasing fly balls that they’re not likely used to seeing.The Cubs took advantage of the wildness of D-backs starter Merrill Kelly. Two walks in the first inning amounted to nothing, but three singles loaded the bases in the second. Hendricks hit into a force play at the plate, and one out later Kris Bryant hit a wind-blown popup into center field [VIDEO].Your browser does not support HTML5 video.None of the four Arizona fielders converging on the ball seemed to know what to do with it. It wound up landing untouched for a two-run double. Kelly then walked Anthony Rizzo, but the Cubs got no further runs. You’ll note the pitch count on that video: 50, with two out in the second inning. Yikes.In the fourth, Daniel Descalso led off with a walk Willson Contreras Jersey , and one out later Rizzo came to the plate again [VIDEO].Your browser does not support HTML5 video.That, ladies and gentlemen, is a triple, Rizzo’s first of the year and just the 16th of his career. You’ll notice the pitch count on that video, too — 93, yikes, and then Kelly issued two more walks in the inning before D-backs manager Torey Lovullo had mercy on him and gave him the rest of the day off. Kelly threw 109 pitches to record eight outs.Meanwhile, Hendricks was blowing down Arizona hitters. At one point he retired nine straight, four of those by strikeout. Of Hendricks’ 11 Ks, five were called, and you know the changeup is working well if that happens.The Cubs put the game away in the sixth off D-backs reliever Matt Koch, who couldn’t throw strikes either. Bryant led off with a single, and then Koch hit Rizzo. Javier Baez hit into a force play, sending Bryant to third, where he scored the Cubs’ fourth run on a wild pitch. Then Willson Contreras muscled a ball into center field [VIDEO] for the fifth run.Your browser does not support HTML5 video.Hendricks completed seven innings even though Christian Walker singled off Kyle’s body with one out in the seventh. Joe Maddon and trainer P.J. Mainville came out, Kyle threw a couple of warmup tosses and seemed fine, so he completed the inning without incident. Overall he threw exactly 100 pitches, 66 for strikes http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-david-ross-jersey , and lowered his season ERA from 5.40 to 3.66 and his WHIP from 2.175 to 1.672, both trending in the right direction. Unfortunately, one long Hendricks streak ended with this pitch [VIDEO].Your browser does not support HTML5 video.That was Kyle’s first wild pitch since September 5, 2016 and here’s how many pitches he had thrown since then without a wild one:The reason Chris Kamka said “Sorry Kyle” was that just a few minutes earlier, he had tweeted this:And then thisNusteb?sh, well. It was a great run for Kyle, more than two years worth, and here’s a visual representation of those 6,662 pitches:The Cubs have had some outstanding starting pitching lately:Steve Cishek threw the eighth inning, running the Cubs’ scoreless inning streak to 31. I was going to lock up the complaint department door tight this afternoon, but Brad Brach made me open it up again by coming in and allowing three hits to the four batters he faced, including an RBI double by Ketel Marte, breaking that streak. And that was a significant streak in Cubs history:Brach’s bad outing forced Joe to call on Pedro Strop to close things out, which he did on just nine pitches (a ground ball and a strikeout to end it). So, overall, this was about 99 percent excellent baseball played by the Cubs Friday afternoon.One more statistical note: Diamondbacks pitchers combined for 182 pitches (in only eight innings!) while Cubs pitchers threw 135 in nine.And so the Cubs return to the .500 mark for the first time since they were 1-1. After the 2-7 road trip, they’ve now won eight of 11, the last four consecutively Kyle Hendricks Jersey , and this one was pretty much the same as the other three in the streak: Excellent starting pitching, timely hitting and (mostly) solid relief work. Keep it going! Over the winning streak, the Cubs have outscored their opponents 22-3 and in winning six of their last seven, have outscored their opponents 34-10 and only once in that seven-game span have given up more than two runs in a game (the 6-5 loss to the Angels last Saturday).Saturday, the Cubs go for their fifth straight win in another matchup with the D-backs at Wrigley Field. Yu Darvish will go for the Cubs and Zack Greinke starts for Arizona. Game time again is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage Saturday will be via ABC7 Chicago. PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) — Yusei Kikuchi’s journey started in northern Japan, in the prefecture of Iwate, about 300 miles from the Tokyo Dome.This is where Kikuchi became a star. Where he was a prep phenom. Where his left arm was so good he seriously considered skipping playing professional baseball in his home country to immediately go where he always wanted to be: the major leagues.“When I was smaller I was watching all the Japanese players play well in the major leagues and that was the time all these Japanese players were coming to the major leagues and I was saying, ‘Even if I’m Japanese I will be able to make it to the majors if I work hard,'” Kikuchi said recently through an interpreter. “I was given that dream by all these former players and that is why I wanted to come to the states.”Kikuchi was determined from the time he was 15 years old to be the next great Japanese import to dazzle American fans and befuddle major league hitters. That dream is now the reality for the newest starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners.In a twist, his debut will come a few hundred miles from where he first made a name for himself at Hanamaki Higashi High School. He will start the second game of the 2019 season against the Oakland Athletics inside the Tokyo Dome next week.While his MLB debut is coming in Japan, Kikuchi has been preparing to make America his home for more than a decade. He studied English and answered the majority of questions in English at his introductory news conference . He scouted the best left-handed pitchers in the majors to see what made them successful. He visited the U.S. on numerous occasions to begin learning the culture.“I went to a couple of ballgames and I looked at the atmosphere and said, ‘Hey, this is the place I want to play,’ and I set that goal when I came to the states,” Kikuchi said. “And during the offseason I worked out at the gyms over here to get used to the American workouts, get used to the American food here.”The Mariners, as much as any team in baseball Mike Montgomery Jersey , are keenly aware of how much Kikuchi wanted to be in the states. They were in the middle of the conversations in 2009 when Kikuchi nearly bypassed playing professionally in Japan to sign with a major league club then.“Our general feeling on Yusei was we had more information on him than just about any free agent player that we could imagine because it had been such an extended look,” Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto said. “We’ve seen his entire career in (Nippon Professional Baseball). I would say if anybody saw Yusei Kikuchi pitch more than we have over the last 10 years, I’d be surprised.”His preparations aside, Kikuchi still has to prove he can pitch here. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, but it’s the offspeed pitches — specifically a looping curveball — that will keep hitters guessing. Kikuchi also hides the ball in his windup until it’s nearly out of his hand.“If you spend any time around Yusei, he’s not here to play in the game,” Dipoto said. “He’s here to make a mark in the big leagues, and we’re pretty excited for who he is as well as what he brings.”Seattle would like to have Kikuchi throw around 170 innings this season, which is what he’s averaged the past two seasons in Japan. Not only will there be an adjustment to taking the ball every fifth or sixth day, Kikuchi acknowledged his pregame routine must also be different.For his first spring training start , Kikuchi was on the field nearly an hour before taking the mound, leading to some awkward downtime throwing outside of the dugout while waiting for the game to begin.Kikuchi and the Mariners hope this is the beginning of a long relationship. He has a guaranteed deal for four years, and if he’s successful, it can be extended to seven seasons worth $109 million if all options are exercised.Kikuchi believes success in his first year will be dictated by how well he adjusts.“I think first and foremost getting use to the culture and adjusting to everything,” he said. “Also staying healthy throughout the whole year and making sure I can pitch all year.”
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