The San Diego Padres are off to a historic start, but they haven’t had much success against the Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks over the years.
Winners in eight of their past 11 and looking for a season-high fifth straight road victory, the Padres hope to fare better against Hendricks than they did last month while also trying to hand the Cubs an eighth consecutive loss on Tuesday night in Chicago.
Behind eight strong innings from ex-Cub Yu Darvish and a three-run eighth inning, San Diego opened the four-game set with Monday’s 4-1 victory to move into a tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers atop the NL West.
The Padres are off to the franchise’s best 62-game start (38-24), and their 21-11 road mark leads the major leagues.
San Diego has a 3.27 ERA, the second-lowest mark in the NL, which helps when its offense has totaled 10 runs while splitting the past four contests. The Padres could face a serious challenge vs. Hendricks (2-5, 5.22 ERA), who is 8-2 with a 2.67 ERA in 12 starts against them.
He allowed three hits with a walk and struck out seven over a season-high 8 2/3 innings during Chicago’s 6-0 win at San Diego on May 9.
“(It was) just incredible to see a guy with a mastery of his craft like that against not just any team, but a really strong lineup in their ballpark,” teammate Nico Hoerner said.
Hendricks, though, is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in his past three overall starts and 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in his past three at home, where he was 1-0 with a 1.62 ERA in his first three outings this season.
He hasn’t pitched since allowing three runs and six hits in five innings during the Cubs’ 4-3, 10-inning win over the Milwaukee Brewers on June 1. Hendricks earned some extra rest due to shoulder fatigue but appears ready to go.
Even so, it might not matter how well Hendricks throws the ball if the Cubs continue to struggle at the plate. A dismal 11-21 at Wrigley Field, the worst home mark in the National League, Chicago has been outscored 53-16 during its current season-high, seven-game slide.
Facing scheduled San Diego starter Sean Manaea (3-3, 3.52 ERA) likely won’t make things any easier.
The left-hander is off to a strong start in June, having allowed three runs (two earned) and eight hits with five walks while fanning 11 in 13 innings over two starts. Manaea recorded his first winning decision since April 18 when he gave two runs (one earned) and three hits in seven innings during San Diego’s 13-2 rout of the visiting New York Mets on Wednesday.
“I thought he was great (against the Mets),” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “He’s been really, really consistent.”
Manaea, 1-1 with a 3.03 ERA in six road starts this season, made his only previous appearance against the Cubs in 2016 with Oakland — vs. Hendricks. He yielded just two runs, on two solo homers, in six innings.
Padres third baseman Manny Machado, who is batting .322 and delivered a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning on Monday, is 5-for-12 versus Hendricks.
San Diego’s Jake Cronenworth, who had three hits in the series opener, is 8-for-17 with eight RBIs in the past four road games.
Chicago star Willson Contreras is 8-for-13 in four games against the Padres this season.
–Field Level Media