Feeling more comfortable four starts after a lengthy injury absence, Kyle Hendricks will try to build on a near historic performance for the Chicago Cubs
Standing in the way will be the surging Baltimore Orioles
Hendricks (1-2, 3.09 ERA) posted a 4.70 ERA through his first three starts since his season debut on May 25, having recovered from a shoulder injury he sustained last July. However, he was brilliant on Saturday, not allowing a hit until Mitch Haniger's two-out double in the eighth inning of Chicago's 4-0 victory at San Francisco.
"It feels great for confidence, obviously," said Hendricks, who yielded only that hit and a walk in eight innings. "I knew I had been feeling good and making a lot of good pitches (in the first three starts), but just to get the results adds to that confidence level."
Hendricks is tasked with pitching the Cubs to their sixth victory in seven games. Chicago totaled 28 runs during a three-game home sweep of the National League Central-leading Pittsburgh Pirates to open this week
Hendricks has faced Baltimore just once, in 2014, when he allowed two runs and five hits in two innings. That potent Orioles team won 96 games and the club's most recent AL East title
Meanwhile, the current Orioles own the second-best record in the major leagues. Baltimore lost seven of 11 from May 26-June 7 but has since totaled 42 runs, batted .309 and clubbed 13 homers while going 6-1
Second-year Baltimore catcher and budding star Adley Rutschman homered for one of his three hits during the Orioles' 4-2 home win over Toronto on Thursday. Rutschman went 6-for-14 as the Orioles took two of three from the Blue Jays. Meanwhile, promising Baltimore shortstop Gunnar Henderson is batting .378 (17-for-45) with five homers and 15 RBIs during his past 12 games
"I think you are starting to see a lot of us young guys kind of step into those roles that we are excited about," said third-year pitcher Tyler Wells, who earned his sixth win on Thursday.
Scheduled Orioles starter Cole Irvin (1-2, 7.85 ERA) allowed 15 runs, 17 hits and eight walks over 12 2/3 innings in his first three starts of the season. He was sent down to Triple-A Norfolk, then recalled in the middle of May for one relief appearance before being demoted again
The left-hander was recalled last weekend and yielded one run on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings during a 6-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.
"If he can do what he did (Saturday) every five days, I think that's going to help out our staff a lot," teammate Adam Frazier said.
Irvin's only previous appearance against the Cubs came in 2019, when he allowed seven runs in 4 2/3 innings. Chicago's Dansby Swanson was not on that team, but he is 3-for-9 vs. Irvin
Swanson is 7-for-18 in the past four games, while teammate Ian Happ went 5-for-12 with eight RBIs during the series against the Pirates.
Frazier is batting .448 (13-for-29) with two homers and two doubles against Hendricks.
The teams have split their eight all-time meetings at Wrigley Field.
--Field Level Media