PITTSBURGH – A solid Opening Day effort last Tuesday felt more like the Kyle Hendricks that fans had gotten to know through the majority of his career.
But on Wednesday afternoon, shades for the starting pitcher from 2021 crept back, as he struggled to find his control and hit his spots in his second start of 2022.
Hendricks allowed a three-run homer in the first inning and wouldn’t get out of the fourth in a difficult afternoon in which he was charged with every run scored against the Cubs in a 6-2 defeat at PNC Park.
The veteran right-hander allowed seven hits and six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in the 78-pitch outing as he gave up four walks while striking out four batters. This came after Hendricks had allowed only one earned run over 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts compared to three walks, taking a no-decision in a 5-4 Cubs victory over the Brewers on April 7th.
All of the damage came after a great start on offense as Willson Contreras slammed a 453-foot homer to center in the first inning to give the Cubs a lead.
Hendricks could have avoided issues in the first frame when Bryan Reynolds grounded into a double play after Daniel Vogelbach’s leadoff single. But an infield hit and a walk set up Ben Gamel, who hit a two-out, three-run homer to put Pittsburgh up to stay.
A similar situation occurred in the third inning when Hendricks gave up a double but then was able to get a pair of outs. But a walk to Gamel was followed by a triple by Kevin Newman that plated two runs to make it 5-1.
After Seiya Suzuki got the run back with an RBI single, the Pirates got it back on another two-out RBI as Ke’Bryan Hayes’ sacrifice fly put Pittsburgh up 6-2 and chased Hendricks from the game.