Anthony Rizzo smacks 2 HRs as Cubs blank Padres
CHICAGO — If it was a sneak preview of the future at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, then Chicago Cubs fans can’t wait for the sequel.
Twenty-four-year-old Anthony Rizzo hit two home runs and 24-year-old Kyle Hendricks pitched seven innings for his first major league victory, leading the Cubs to a 6-0 victory over the San Diego Padres that snapped their five-game losing streak.
And rookie Arimendy Alcantara hit the hardest ball of the night, a blast over the bleachers in right field that landed on Sheffield Avenue.
“I just try to hit the ball,” the 22-year-old Alcantara said. “If it goes far, that is OK.”
“They’re not looking like they’re too bothered by being at the major league level,” manager Rick Renteria noticed. “They’re just playing the game, simplifying it between the lines.”
Rizzo staked Hendricks to a 2-0 lead in the third inning with a solo homer. Four innings later, Alcantara and Rizzo hit back-to-back homers off Blaine Boyer for a 5-0 lead. Rizzo became the first National League player to reach 25 homers this season, his career high. He finished with 23 homers in 160 games last season.
“I’m not stronger than I was last year, I don’t think,” said Rizzo, who credited a more disciplined approach for his recent power surge.
Recalled from Triple-A Iowa earlier Tuesday, Hendricks (1-0) made short work of an anemic Padres lineup that entered the game with a total of 29 home runs and 103 RBIs. In his second start of the season, the right-hander allowed five hits and threw only 83 pitches, two that were clocked faster than 88 mph. He walked three and struck out five.
“Best day of my life,” Hendricks called it. “Awesome.”
The Padres had two runners on base in the first, third and fifth innings, but the Cubs turned two of their season-high four double plays to erase the last two threats.
In the process, Hendricks continued to erase doubts that he could finesse his way to the next level.
“You wonder that when you come up,” said Hendricks, whose father John was in attendance. “That’s definitely the hardest thing in baseball — to trust your stuff. But that’s what you have to fall back on also.”
Eric Stults (3-12) lasted only five innings in the muggy conditions and took the loss, the ninth in his last 10 decisions. He gave up three runs and six hits and walked three.
“Yeah, we get spoiled by the weather in San Diego,” Stults said. “So tonight definitely the humidity was something I wasn’t used to. It’s hard to catch your breath. The way (Hendricks) threw, he had some quick innings. It felt like I was sitting down and getting right back up.”
*Photo courtesy of AP Photo/Jeff Haynes