Cubs show off playoff formula in beating Diamondbacks

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And it was a thing of beauty on Monday night, thanks mostly to starter Kyle Hendricks. He’s likely to get the ball in Game 3 of a postseason series, but as he has done many times in his career, he threw like an ace in shutting down the fading Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1, while just missing out on a complete game.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

“You see bad swings by good hitters” is how manager Joe Maddon described it afterward.

Hendricks had it going, as he induced a swing rate of 58 percent, the highest in two seasons for him. Also, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information, his 25 first-pitch strikes were the second most of his career. And his changeup was devastating, as he struck out seven Diamondbacks on that pitch alone. Imagine that Kyle Hendricks in a playoff series, following Jon Lester and Cole Hamels.9

Cubs fans can begin to dream that dream, as the team reduced its magic number to win the NL Central to 10.

“We’ve been waiting for a little roll to happen,” Hendricks said. “It’s nice for us to be coming all together.”

Though it was a magnificent performance, a well-pitched game by the Cubs isn’t exactly headline material these days. The real narrative on Monday — and what might have meaning next month — is that some of the Cubs’ bigger stars showed up in the box score, namely former MVP Kris Bryant. He was 2-for-3 with two opposite-field hits, including his first home run since July 20. The majority of his time between then and now was spent on the disabled list with a bum shoulder. Bryant could just now be starting to feel like his old self again.

“We all know what KB can do here,” teammate Javier Baez said. “It’s not the way he’s used to swinging. He’s still getting used to it. I know he’s going to hit. Having him in the lineup, it changes how the other team pitches to us. They have to pitch to him, [Anthony] Rizzo or me, or whoever is in between.”nfl cheap jerseys nike

Bryant is adjusting, but as the at-bats have piled up in his return, he’s looking more and more like the dangerous hitter and on-base threat the league knows him to be. With an offense that has struggled throughout the second half, a productive Bryant can make the Cubs that much better.