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Slow poke: Hendricks wins 7th start in row, Cubs blank Mets

Thu Jun 17 11:26pm ET
By RONALD BLUM
AP Baseball Writer

New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman stretches his arm after allowing a two-run home run to Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez, right, during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


Chicago Cubs Javier Baez watches his first-inning, two-run home run off New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman in a baseball game Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. The two runs held up as the Cubs won 2-0. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


New York Mets catcher James McCann, second from left, and Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez, right, watch Baez's first-inning two-run home run during a baseball game, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) reacts after committing an error, allowing Chicago Cubs' Ian Happ to reach first during the eighth inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. The Cubs shut out the Mets, 2-0. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman reacts after nearly allowing a home run to Chicago Cubs' Joc Pederson in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


From left to right, Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ, center fielder Jake Marisnick and right fielder Jayson Heyward celebrate after their victory over the New York Mets in a baseball game, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


New York Mets' Pete Alonso strikes out swinging for the final out in a loss to the Chicago Cubs in a baseball game, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


Chicago Cubs fans hold a giant "W" sign over the Chicago Cubs as they leave the field while Cubs manager David Ross, center left, and others greet Cubs shortstop Javier Baez (9) after the team defeated the New York Mets in a baseball game, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras, left, congratulates relief pitcher Craig Kimbrell after they defeated the New York Mets in a baseball game, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks winds up during the fifth inning of the team's baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


Light from the setting sun streams into the stadium as New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) applauds as Pedro Sierra, a member of the Negro Leagues, is honored between innings of a baseball game between the Mets and the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman delivers during the first inning of the team's baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant (17) greets Javier Baez at the plate after scoring on Baez's home run in the first inning of the team's baseball game against the New York Mets, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. Mets catcher James McCann is at right. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


Chicago Cubs' Javier Baez watches his two-run home run off New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, June 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)


NEW YORK (AP) Kyle Hendricks is showing velocity isn't everything.

Without throwing a single pitch that reached 90 mph, Hendricks flummoxed the Mets for six innings Thursday night to win his career-best seventh straight start and lead the Chicago Cubs over the New York Mets 2-0.

That's how the 31-year-old does it: He averages several ticks under 90 mph with the third-slowest fastball among major league starters.

''It obviously has become more of a velocity game, but there are still guys that go out and can pitch,'' Hendricks said. ''I just try and focus on myself, and that has to be my game. So I go out and try and execute pitches and change up timing and work quick.''

Javier Baez hit a two-run homer in the first off Marcus Stroman, and the Cubs avoided a four-game series sweep despite getting just four hits.

Hendricks (9-4) combined on a two-hitter with Andrew Chafin (pitching on his 31st birthday), Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel.

Kimbrel tied for the major league lead in saves with his 19th in 21 chances and matched Jeff Reardon for 10th place on the career list at 367.

Neither team got a hit after the fourth inning in the epitome of 2021 baseball, combining to go 0 for their final 34. The final 17 Mets made out in order, and the only one of the Cubs' last 17 to reach base got there on an error by shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Hendricks struck out seven and walked two, retiring his last eight batters after consecutive walks in the fourth.

He improved to 4-0 against the Mets, who had trouble adjusting to his relatively soft arsenal. The fastest of his 92 pitches was 89.3 mph; his 87.1 mph fastball average entering was 186th among 188 qualified pitchers, ahead of only Adam Cimber of Miami (86.9) and submarining Tyler Rogers of San Francisco (82.3), according to MLB Statcast.

''If you look on paper, it's nothing it's going to wow you with,'' Cubs manager David Ross said. ''This is just the real art of pitching, and he goes out and does it every single time he takes the bump.''

Hendricks' ERA is 4.13, down from 7.54 at the end of April. He doesn't consider himself a possible All-Star.

''My numbers are still very inflated, I think, so it would be a surprise to me,'' he said.

Chicago pitched just its third shutout of the season but second in five games. The Cubs got a win despite hitting .138 (17 for 123) in the series with nine runs with eight walks and 49 strikeouts.

Stroman (6-5) gave up four hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. He threw 25 split-changeups, a new pitch for him this season.

''Mechanically I was a little off in the first,'' Stroman said. ''Core wasn't activated, wasn't getting to my legs.''

Stroman allowed a single to Kris Bryant with one out in the first, and Baez hit a hanging slider into the motorized 18-by-16-foot apple in the center field batter's eye that is raised to celebrate Mets home runs. Baez's 16th home run this season was his second of the series.

Bryant was back at third base and went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts, two nights after he was hit on the right hand by a Taijaun Walker pitch. Bryant's throwing hand was wrapped.

New York lost for only the third time in its last 17 home games and is 20-7 at Citi Field. The Mets were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

''Our timely hitting wasn't there,'' Mets manager Luis Rojas said.

WEB GEMS

Mets 1B Pete Alonso made a diving stop on Sergio Alcantara in the seventh, then dove glove-first into the base for the out. ... CF Kevin Pillar had a leaping catch on Joc Pederson at the top of the wall in the fifth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mets: An MRI of ace RHP Jacob deGrom showed no abnormalities, the team said after it was examined by New York medical director David Altchek and Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. ... RF Michael Conforto (strained right hamstring) went 0 for 4 for in his second rehab game at Triple-A Syracuse. 2B Jeff McNeil (strained left hamstring) was 1 for 4 in his third game at Syracuse and could rejoin

UP NEXT

Cubs: RHP Zach Davies (4-3, 4.01) starts Friday's homestand opener against Miami.

Mets: LHP Joey Lucchesi (1-4, 5.18) starts Friday's series opener at Washington and RHP Erick Fedde (4-4,, 3.86)

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