Five baseball seasons ago, Kyle Hendricks was playing his first professional season with the Spokane Indians, appearing in 20 games, all in relief.
Wednesday night he starts on the mound for the Chicago Cubs in the deciding game of the World Series, hoping to give that franchise its first championship since 1908.
He’s come a long way since his 2011 season in Spokane, in which he appeared in 20 games, pitching 32 2/3 innings with a 2-2 record and an ERA of 1.93. He gave up 20 hits and four walks while striking out 36.
Now after the Cubs beat the Indians Tuesday night 9-3 to force Game 7, Hendricks is going to face Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber, who beat the Cubs in Games 1 and 4.
“This is the ultimate dream,” Hendricks said. “When you’re out in your backyard as a kid, playing Little League at the field with your friends, this is the moment you dream about: Game 7, 3-2, two outs, something like that, bottom of the ninth. But it’s always Game 7 of the World Series.”
The 28-year-old right-hander was the major leagues’ ERA leader this season at 2.13, pitching 190 innings, giving up 142 hits and 44 walks with 170 strikeouts.
Hendricks pitched in Game 3 of this World Series, getting no decision after giving up six hits in 4 1/3 scoreless innings of a 1-0 loss.
He has made four starts this postseason with a 1-1 record and 1.31 ERA in 20 2/3 innings, giving up 15 hits and six walks while fanning 17.
Kluber is 4-1 with a 0.89 ERA in four postseason starts, starting with 16 consecutive scoreless innings against Boston in the Division Series and Toronto in the A.L. Championship Series and now is scheduled to see if he can beat the Cubs a third time.
“Obviously, he’s a special guy,” Hendricks said. “You can just see it, the way he takes to the mound. He’s always locked in.”
The 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner, Kluber was 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA this season as Cleveland won the A.L. Central for the first time since 2007.
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