Chicago Cubs

Kyle Hendricks makes quick work of the Cardinals in shutout win

Kyle Hendricks breezes through Cardinals lineup for 81-pitch complete game shutout on Friday at Wrigley Field.

Kyle Hendricks barely had to break a sweat on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

The Chicago Cubs right-hander needed just 81 pitches to shutout the St. Louis Cardinals, giving up four hits while striking out three in a 4-0 Cubs win.

Hendricks defined the word economical throughout the game. Only one Cardinals batter, Paul DeJong in the fourth inning, reached a three-ball count. Hendricks needed less than 10 pitches in six of the nine innings, his highest pitch count in a single inning coming in the fourth when he threw 15. Sixty-three of his 81 pitches were for strikes. All four Cardinals hits were singles, and no Cardinal advanced past first base.

In an age when more pitchers are throwing 100 mph than ever, Hendricks showed there’s still room in the game for guile. None of his pitches clocked higher than 88 mph on Friday.

The shutout is Hendricks’ first since 2016, and the third of his career. He’s the first Cubs pitcher to pull off the “Maddux,” a shutout in less than 100 pitches, since Carlos Zambrano in 2009 (Greg Maddux did it 13 times in his Hall of Fame career). It’s the first complete game shutout in as few as 81 pitches since Aaron Cook of the Boston Red Sox in 2012. Only three pitchers have done it since 1990 (Cook did it twice).

Anthony Rizzo provided all the offense Chicago needed, hitting a three-run home run in the third inning and finishing the game 3-3. Javier Baez added an RBI single in the seventh. With the win, Hendricks improves to 2-4 on the season with a 3.93 ERA.

The win is the Cubs’ fifth straight as they pull within 1.5 games of the NL Central-leading Cardinals.

Next: Corey Kluber avoids surgery to repair fractured forearm

Despite the impressive showing, Hendricks is still nowhere near the all-time record for fewest pitches in a shutout. That honor belongs to Red Barrett of the Boston Braves, who shutout the Cincinnati Reds on 58 pitches in 1944.

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