This one was...
Well, it was...
Let's start here. Anthony Rizzo's two-run, walkoff home run into the right-field party patio, just fair, gave the Cubs their fourth straight win, 5-3 in 13 innings over the Marlins. It's the second walkoff win this week, but the Cubs' first walkoff homer since Rizzo hit a similar two-run blast against the Cardinals nearly two years ago, July 29, 2012.
Let's also stipulate this. Despite the fact that Hector Rondon blew what many term an "easy" save (three runs ahead, no one out in the ninth), I'm not going to blame him. Of the four hits he allowed, only one -- Reed Johnson's two-RBI single with two out -- was a solid hit. The other three were all bloops that found holes to drop. And the Cubs might have lost the game if not for a close play at first base that was overruled on review:
Hector Rondon appeared to be off first base and former Cubs farmhand Justin Bour was ruled safe on the field. A run scored, but review showed that Rondon got his foot back on the bag before Bour crossed it. The run counted anyway, but had Bour been safe, maybe the Marlins score another run or more and win the game. Instead, Rondon struck out Christian Yelich to end the inning.
The Cubs didn't really have many chances to score in the ninth, 10th, 11th or 12th innings, though Chris Coghlan singled and made an uncontested steal of second with nobody out in the 12th. Dan Jennings and Kevin Slowey struck out the side to end that threat.
And Cubs relievers Brian Schlitter and Carlos Villanueva threw four innings of scoreless ball from the 10th through the 13th, allowing just two singles and striking out five. All told, Cubs pitchers K'd 17 Marlins Friday afternoon (though, they were joined by Marlins pitchers striking out 16 Cubs). One of the two hits was a ball that appeared to be caught by Nate Schierholtz (ruled so on the field), but as you can see here, it was trapped (and overturned on review):
Fortunately, that was with two out and no one on base in the 10th, and Schlitter got out of it with a groundout.
(Thanks to ubercubsfan for the GIFs!)
That held the game in check until Rizzo followed Junior Lake's leadoff single in the 13th with his walkoff, his team-leading 12th of the year. Even more impressive from the pitching staff, they held Giancarlo Stanton down. Stanton, who entered the game leading the National League in homers, RBI and total bases and with a 1.021 OPS, went 0-for-6 with four strikeouts. Impressive!
All of that followed a game that looked like it could have been the quickest of the year. Jason Hammel made fast work of the Marlins through seven, allowing six hits and striking out eight, with just one walk (intentional); the Marlins stranded six through seven innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the fourth.
The Cubs couldn't do much with Nathan Eovaldi, either, through seven. Nate Schierholtz ingled and Coghlan doubled him in for a 1-0 lead in the fifth and it looked like that might even hold up. The Cubs scored two more runs on a Rizzo double in the eighth, and that was a good thing, because without that, the Cubs go home losers in nine innings.
This was a satisfying game, with Rizzo's big day and solid bullpen work apart from Rondon, who, again, I won't totally blame for the three-run Marlins ninth. The Cubs are now 14-13 at home, the first time they have been over .500 at home since they beat the Pirates September 16, 2012. They were 36-35 at home at that point in the 2012 season. The fourth straight win set a season high and clinched a winning homestand with two games to go.
This is the kind of day weatherwise that we in Chicago wait for all winter. Each March when spring training ends, I tell my friends who I see both in Mesa and at Wrigley, "It'll be a while before we see each other with the weather this nice." Friday was that day -- unlimited sunshine, temperatures in the mid-70s, low humidity and a light breeze.
That's good entertainment, and (mostly) good baseball, so the complaint department is definitely closed.
The Cubs will go for yet another series win Saturday afternoon, with Jeff Samardzija facing old Cubs nemesis Randy Wolf.