On the day they honored him with a bobblehead, Jack Brickhouse would have loved this one.
The Cubs came from behind twice and slugged three home runs with the wind blowing out at Wrigley Field and then hung on in the last two innings todefeat the Cardinals 7-6 in the opener of a three-game series in front of the first announced crowd of over 40,000 this year (41,534, and most all of them showed up).
And I wouldn't have given any chance for the Cubs to win this one after a disastrous first inning in which the team made two errors and Travis Wood allowed three hits, giving the Cardinals a 3-0 lead, all on unearned runs.
Give Wood a lot of credit. He labored through five innings, throwing a season-high 113 pitches, mostly because he had to, as Rick Renteria had said some relievers weren't available (and then he went to Wesley Wright in the sixth, even though Wright had thrown an inning Thursday night -- go figure). Wood threw three good innings while the Cubs were coming back and taking the lead on a three-run homer by Ryan Sweeney, a two-out, fourth inning rally that produced a run and then a fifth-inning homer by Wood himself. They needed that last one, which gave them a 5-3 lead, because Wood coughed the lead right back with a pair of solo shots in the top of the fifth.
The Cubs scored the eventual winning runs on a two-run homer by Luis Valbuena after Anthony Rizzo was hit by a 3-2 pitch leading off the seventh. Rizzo got hit again in the eighth and now has been HBP 10 times this year. The team record for a season is 17, and it has stood for 109 years; Frank Chance set it in 1905.
That's even before Jack Brickhouse was born! This was a 1970s-style contest, with the wind blowing out and three Cub homers. That would have been three chances forJack to say, "Hey! Hey!," just like his bobblehead does. Yes, the Cubs gave away a bobblehead with a sound chip with Jack's call of Ernie Banks' 500th home run from 1970. I recorded some video of this at Wrigley today; it's kind of hard to hear because of the background noise but I wanted it to have the Wrigley atmosphere. Cool giveaway.
A lot of credit to the Cubs for playing the Cardinals tough Friday afternoon on a day that didn't start out well. Ryan Sweeney's home run, just his second of the year, brought the Cubs fans in the crowd (that appeared to be nearly 40 percent Cardinal fans) to life. It was Sweeney's best day of the year, as he also singled in the fourth-inning run for a 2-for-4, four-RBI afternoon. I know you'd love to see the Cubs' three homers, so here they are, courtesy of BCBer ubercubsfan.
All together now:
The Cubs tried to give the lead back several times with some really bad baserunning (Rizzo inexplicably being caught stealing in the third) and a messed-up rundown in the eighth (why Starlin Castro didn't just tag Kolten Wong himself, I'll never know) which fortunately didn't lead to any runs when Neil Ramirez struck out Matt Carpenter with the tying run on third base to end the inning. The Cubs could have added more runs in the bottom of the eighth when the HBP to Rizzo loaded the bases with two out, but Castro was called out on strikes to end the frame.
This one ran even longer than the losses the last two nights -- three hours, 44 minutes -- but I won't complain at all about the time of this game, because it was filled with interesting plays, lots of home runs, some clutch relief pitching on the Cubs' part, and a win over the Cardinals, which is always good, no matter where the teams are in the standings.
The Cubs go for two in a row over the Cardinals Saturday afternoon, with Jake Arrieta facing Shelby Miller.