Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks threw a complete game in Friday's season opener against the Brewers, allowing only three hits while striking out nine batters en route to a 3-0 victory at Wrigley Field in Chicago to kick off the shortened 2020 MLB season.
Brandon Woodruff was good Friday night but unfortunately for the Milwaukee Brewers, Kyle Hendricks was just a bit better.
The Cubs' right-hander held Milwaukee's offense to just three hits and struck out nine while pitching into the ninth inning as the Brewers dropped their season opener, 3-0, at Wrigley Field.
"He pitched really, really well," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "No mistakes. His changeup was good and he was really good on the first pitch. That's what he does but I think he did it as good as he could tonight."
Hendricks breezed through the his first eight batters, striking out five Brewers, until Orlando Arcia slapped an 0-1 changeup to left for Milwaukee's first hit of the game.
He retired Eric Sogard to end the inning then struck out the side in the fourth having only thrown 48 pitches.
"We talk about pitch counts a lot but there was no stress, there were no high-pitch-count innings," Counsell said. "That was one of those games where the innings were just easy."
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Woodruff, meanwhile, had to work just a little harder. He was able to work out of jams in the first two innings with timely double plays but wasn't as lucky in the third.
After getting Victor Caratini to open the inning with a groundout to third, Woodruff gave up a single to Nico Hoerner then fell behind, 3-0, to Ian Happ. The switch-hitting Happ took Woodruff's fourth offering, a slider, for strike one, but Woodruff missed his mark on another slider with his next pitch and Happ crushed it to center to give the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
"That was really the only mistake tonight," said Woodruff, who was making his first career Opening Day start. "In the back of my mind I wanted to go changeup but we went sinker. If I execute the pitch, it’s a ground ball, but to good hitters in the Major Leagues, if you miss completely across the plate, that’s what’s going to happen. He was sold out for the heater and made good contact. That was the only pitch that hurt me. I learned from it and took it to that next at-bat."
Woodruff retired Kris Bryant on a groundout to third then drilled Anthony Rizzo with a 1-2 fastball before getting Javier Baez to ground into a force at second to end the inning.
He made quick work of the Cubs in the fourth then had to work out of trouble again in the fifth when Caratini led off with a double to right. After getting Hoerner to ground out, Woodruff left Caratini stranded by striking out Happ and Bryant.
"I was really proud of him for grinding through it in the fifth inning when the tank was getting on empty," Counsell said. "He made some big pitches in that inning with men in scoring position to some good hitters."
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Woodruff finished his day having allowed just the two runs on four hits and a walk while striking out five.
"He gave us a chance to win," Counsell said. "He gave us a good chance to win and I was proud of the way he pitched."
Alex Claudio and Bobby Wahl combined for a scoreless sixth and Corey Knebel, making his first game appearance since the 2018 NL Championship Series, kept it a 2-0 game with a scoreless eighth.
The Cubs added an insurance run when J.P. Feyereisen, a River Falls native making his major league debut, gave up a solo home run to Rizzo in the eighth.
Arcia led off the ninth with his third hit of the game but Hendricks retired the next three Milwaukee batters to finish the shutout.
"We were one hitter away from getting (Hendricks) out of the game," Counsell said. "We just couldn't get that next guy on."
Photos: Brewers blanked by Cubs on Opening Day at Wrigley Field
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