This time, it didn't take quite as long. The Rockies dispatched the Cubs in 10 innings, 6-4, the game running 30 minutes shorter than it took to play the first nine innings Tuesday night.
The teams started the game as if they were weary from the 16-inning marathon the night before, which they almost certainly were. Neither team took batting practice. For their part the Rockies didn't appear to need it, scoring three runs off Travis Wood in the first two innings on five hits. After that Wood settled down and wound up with a career-high 11 strikeouts, even after giving up another run in the sixth. Wood thus had an Edwin Jackson outing: six innings, four runs. He also threw 113 pitches, and I have a feeling Rick Renteria would have liked more balls hit in play for outs and fewer K's for Wood, with the bullpen overworked. More on this later.
Meanwhile, Brett Anderson was taking care of Cubs hitters pretty easily. The Rockies turned double plays in each of the first three innings, so though the Cubs were getting plenty of baserunners, they didn't do anything with them. Finally, a two-out rally in the fifth inning produced a run on a Ryan Sweeney single and a double from John Baker. The Cubs put together three singles and scored another run in the sixth to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Here's where I start wondering what Rick Renteria is thinking. The bullpen had been stretched to the limit Tuesday night (obviously, when a position player had to pitch). A couple of relievers (Pedro Strop and James Russell) were probably unavailable. Chris Rusin had been recalled from Iowa to "take one for the team" and provide some extra help.
Why, then, did Renteria use three guys who had all thrown the night before? Especially when the game went to the 10th inning, why wasn't Rusin called on instead of Wesley Wright? Wright was awful, issuing two walks and giving up a pair of hits and wild-pitching a run in. Extra innings is, in my view, exactly where you use a guy like Rusin, especially since the pitcher's spot in the order had just come up in the bottom of the ninth; Rusin could have thrown two or three innings without having to worry about a pinch-hitter.
The game only got to extras because of some heroics from Luis Valbuena, whose eighth homer of the season sliced through some very chilly, damp air into the right-field bleachers to tie the contst in the bottom of the eighth in yet another two-out, nobody-on rally (at least the Cubs did that well Wednesday night). Courtesy of BCBer ubercubsfan, here's Luis V's blast:
Love the bat flip!
Valbuena came up again in the 10th with a chance to send the game into the 11th, with a runner on base and two out, but his line drive this time was hit directly at right fielder Charlie Blackmon to end it. In so doing Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino posted his first save -- ever.
Things could have gotten interesting had the game continued. Emilio Bonifacio has pretty much been told he'll be traded by the end of the day Thursday, so he was held out of the starting lineup and not used to pinch-hit Wednesday night. That left Welington Castillo as the Cubs' only remaining bench player. I'll post a separate thread later this morning (at 9 a.m. CT) for trade talk on deadline day; the non-waiver trade deadline is 3 p.m. CT this afternoon. Remember that doesn't necessarily mean 3 p.m. will arrive and all trades must be announced by that time; it only means teams have to file official paperwork by then. Announcements could come somewhat later in the day.
As always, we await developments.
The two teams will complete this seemingly endless series Thursday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. CT, with Jake Arrieta getting the call for the Cubs. The Rockies had originally scheduled Tyler Matzek, but Matzek threw the final inning of the 16-inning game Tuesday night, so they will recall Pedro Hernandez -- yet another lefthander -- to make the start. The game preview will post at 11:30 a.m. CT