David Ross’ first big managerial decision for the Chicago Cubs was an unqualified success.
Kyle Hendricks became the first Chicago starter in 46 years to go the distance on Opening Night, firing a three-hit shutout Friday in the Cubs’ 3-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.
Hendricks fanned nine and walked none in a 103-pitch masterpiece, not allowing a single runner past first base. No. 9 hitter Orlando Arcia accounted for all three hits with singles in the third, sixth and ninth innings.
The dominant outing gave Ross, who helped the 2016 Cubs snap a 108-year World Series title drought, a win in his debut as the team’s skipper. Prior to Hendricks’ performance, the last Chicago pitcher to log a complete-game win in the opener was Bill Bonham in 1974.
Brandon Woodruff didn’t pitch poorly for the Brewers, allowing two runs off four hits and a walk in five innings while fanning five. But he missed badly with one third-inning pitch to Ian Happ, and it cost Woodruff a loss.
Happ got the count advantage at 3-1 and jumped all over a meaty 96 mph sinker that leaked out over the plate’s inner half. It traveled 422 feet, disappearing over the center field wall with Nico Hoerner aboard after a one-out single.
Anthony Rizzo added eighth-inning insurance for the Cubs when he lined a 2-0 fastball from reliever J.P. Feyereisen 386 feet down the right field line for his first homer.
Woodruff, who like Hendricks was making his first Opening Night start, worked around early traffic in the first two innings. Chicago taxed him for 28 pitches before making the first out of the second inning, but double-play balls ushered Woodruff through two clean innings.
However, there was nothing Woodruff or his teammates could do to make Hendricks sweat. The former MLB earned-run average champ finished in style, inducing three straight groundouts after Arcia’s third hit.
It was the first shutout in any opener since the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw beat San Francisco in 2013.
–Field Level Media