(CBS) The Cubs began their World Series defense with the same starter as in their Game 7 victory, and right-hander Kyle Hendricks deliver the same result for his team.
Hendricks pitched seven shutout innings and earned the win in the Cubs’ 3-0 victory over the Nationals in Game 1 of the National League Division Series in Washington D.C. on Friday night. He kept a loaded Nationals lineup in check all game long by working his repertoire and forcing ground-ball outs. Hendricks finished with 70.6 percent ground-ball out rate on 27 batters faced.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon was impressed with what Hendricks brought to the table, noticing an uptick in his velocity that he credited to adrenaline. Hendricks allowed just two hits — none after the second inning — and three walks while striking out six.
“You saw the velocity on the board,” Maddon told reporters in Washington after the win. “For him to maintain those numbers the entire game is really impressive. And with that, that’s why the changeup becomes an even better pitch at that point.”
Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg was charged with two unearned runs in seven innings of work, as the Cubs turned an error by third baseman Anthony Rendon into a pair of two-out runs in the sixth inning.
Teammates in the dugout admired the way Hendricks competed on the big stage. He delivered in the biggest of stages last fall, keeping the Cubs in the lead during Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. His place as the Game 1 starter in the NLDS came as the Cubs sorted through their options with Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Jake Arrieta.
Ultimately, the comfort in Hendricks’ demeanor and composure on the big stage proved beneficial for the Cubs, who took a 1-0 lead in the series.
“He’s the same guy,” Anthony Rizzo said. “All the time, no matter what.”
Lester takes the mound in Game 2 Saturday at Nationals Park with the Cubs looking to take a 2-0 NLDS lead back home to Chicago. The Nationals turn to left-hander Gio Gonzalez.