By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — The battle lines have been drawn for Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. After a wild Game 1 that saw the Cubs top the Dodgers, 8-4, behind an eighth-inning Miguel Montero grand slam Saturday, the teams come back with the stingiest starting pitchers in all of baseball on the mound.
Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks won the MLB ERA title with a 2.13 mark. Dodgers left-hander Clayon Kershaw registered an even better mark at 1.69 but didn’t qualify for the ERA title because he pitched just 149 innings while sitting out a long time with a back injury.
On paper, it appears Game 2 will be a low-scoring affair, and after a windy Game 1 saw the winds blowing out to left, the conditions were predicted to be neutral Sunday night.
The easy-going Hendricks has a different mentality on the day he pitches.
“It’s more nerve-racking having to watch,” Hendricks said. “Not being involved, you don’t have any control over it. I think there will be the usual anxiousness to get out there. I will just try to get in the same routine. I try to keep that going. I will draw on the other experiences I have had in the postseason.”
Pitching at Wrigley Field should once again be an advantage for Hendricks, whose 1.32 ERA at home this season was the second-lowest in franchise history. Grover Cleveland Alexander had a 1.11 ERA at home in 1920.
“I am sure the atmosphere will be no different than any other game here,” Hendricks said. “These fans, they have been up for it all year long. We have had so many games where the energy had been high.”
Hendricks was hit on the right forearm by a line drive in the fourth inning of Game 2 of the NLDS on Oct. 8. He exited that game but has been deemed fine to pitch after a side session went well Friday.
“I was confident I could make it back for my next start,” Hendricks said. “The treatment by the medical staff was great. I have them to thank for getting the soreness out of the effected area. I knew once the X-rays were negative, I would be OK to get back.”
Kershaw didn’t face the Cubs this season. Hendricks faced the Dodgers once, earning a win with eight innings of one-run ball.
Hendricks is 0-0 with a 5.11 ERA in three career postseason starts.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.