CHICAGO — Considering all the Chicago Cubs are playing for as they enter the final two months of the regular season, manager Joe Maddon won’t allow his team to look past anyone.
That message became abundantly clear after the Cubs dropped the opener of a four-game series with the last-place San Diego Padres on Thursday. Although Chicago bounced back and held off San Diego in a 5-4 victory on Friday, Maddon hopes the Cubs won’t allow themselves to play down to the competition moving forward.
That continues Saturday when the Cubs and Padres meet again at Wrigley Field.
“I want to believe that we’re at the point now, and especially when you get to this time of year, (the opponent) really shouldn’t matter,” Maddon told reporters after Thursday’s 6-1 loss, according to the Arlington Heights Daily Herald. “You shouldn’t have to play the ’27 Yankees to get up for the game. You should be able to show up as professionals and realize — you do realize — how these games matter and how you just can’t take anybody or anything for granted.
“I want to believe we’re there. I can’t deny that I’ve seen us play maybe up to the level of our competition, and it’s probably happened this year at some point, too. It was more obvious even last year at the beginning.”
Friday’s victory brought the Cubs to 8-8 since the All-Star break, a stretch in which they have seen their lead in the National League Central diminish to almost nothing.
Kyle Hendricks (7-9, 3.97 ERA) will take the mound for the Cubs on Saturday. He will be looking for his second straight victory.
Hendricks was impressive in allowing two runs and just four hits in seven innings during his last outing against the St. Louis Cardinals when he struck out eight. He is 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA in seven career starts against the Padres.
Hendricks’ solid start may have been another step in the right direction after he has struggled with settling into a groove for much of the season. But if the Cubs are to continue to remain atop the division, getting Hendricks on track will be key.
“I was being more aggressive and getting quicker outs,” Hendricks told reporters after the start, according to the Chicago Tribune. ” … The mindset was better and I saw the results.”
After snapping a seven-game losing streak with Thursday’s victory, San Diego will attempt to get back in the win column after a late rally on Friday to get within a run in the ninth inning.
The Padres will send rookie right-hander Walter Lockett to the mound after scheduled starter Joey Lucchesi came down with a stomach bug and was confined to his hotel room on Friday, the San Diego-Union Tribune reported.
Lockett was caught off-guard by the fact he will be starting in what will be the second major league start of his career and first ever against the Cubs. Despite the short notice, Lockett will do what he can.
Lockett was called up June 1 and made his big league debut with 3 2/3 innings against the Cincinnati Reds, when he allowed four runs, four hits and five walks.
“Another opportunity to try to set myself up and show these guys what I can do,” Lockett told reporters on Friday, according to the Union-Tribune. “That’s what I’m going to treat it as. … I’m ready for my audition.”
Copyright 2018 by STATS. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.