The result of this game was the first inkling this spring that something special might be happening with the Cubs.
Down to their final out -- final strike, in fact, an 0-2 count -- Dexter Fowler hit a two-run homer to give the Cubs a 6-5 lead. Check out who he's being congratulated by at the plate, too -- Welington Castillo had singled in a run to make the score 5-4.
And that was all off former Cub LaTroy Hawkins. What could be better for an early-April win?
Following this win the Cubs were 3-2, tied with the Cardinals, half a game behind the still first-place Reds. They would see the .500 mark only one more time in 2015, after a loss to the Brewers May 10 (which you won't see in this series since I'm only doing the wins) made them 15-15. Here's the rest of that original recap.
I had an entire recap ready to go and I really don't want to throw the whole thing out so you're going to wind up reading it anyway, but Dexter Fowler made me change everything around and I couldn't be happier.
The former Rockies center fielder smashed a two-run homer with two strikes and two out in the top of the ninth off our old friend LaTroy Hawkins and that was the difference in a 6-5 win over the Rockies that sends the Cubs home with a series win and a winning record at 3-2.
Here's video of Fowler's home run -- you'll have to click on the link since MLB doesn't allow embedding for the first 24 hours after a game. That ball was crushed, too -- it landed in the second deck.
Before Fowler's home run, a walk to Arismendy Alcantara and a wild pitch put Mendy on second base in that ninth inning, where he scored on a Welington Castillo single to make it 5-4. With Travis Wood having already pinch-hit and a short bench with Tommy La Stella not available, Beef was left in the game, representing the tying run. Fortunately, his lack of speed didn't matter when Fowler connected.
Now, you get to read the recap I had written and was just about to hit "publish" had Fowler not performed his heroics.
Kyle Hendricks didn't pitch that badly Sunday afternoon, though his pitching line (4⅓ innings, eight hits, five runs) doesn't show it.
Instead, it was one snap decision he made in the second inning that was his downfall and could have been the difference in the game.
The Cubs had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the second after Chris Coghlan led off with a walk (the first of three straight innings the Cubs' leadoff hitter walked) and Miguel Montero doubled. In the bottom of the inning, Corey Dickerson and Michael McKenry hit one-out singles. Then Daniel Descalso hit a ball that was heading right toward Starlin Castro and almost certainly would have been an inning-ending double-play ball.
But Hendricks reacted and got enough of a glove on the ball to slow it down; by the time it got to Castro there was no play and the bases were loaded.
Chris Bosio came out to talk to Hendricks. That's a smart idea, settle your pitcher down, and for a batter, it worked. Rockies starting pitcher Jordan Lyles popped up for the second out.
Unfortunately, the Rockies have one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now in former Cub DJ LeMahieu. DJLM smacked a ball to deep left-center, over Coghlan's head, and that cleared the bases for a 3-1 Rockies lead. DJLM then scored on a single and instead of getting out of the inning scoreless, the Cubs and Hendricks trailed by three.
They got a couple of those runs back in the top of the fifth thanks to some small ball. Descalso made an error allowing Alcantara to reach. Mendy stole second and Hendricks singled him in. Two more singles loaded the bases and then Anthony Rizzo hit a foul popup to McKenry, who dropped it. It was a tough wind and sky to play Sunday and McKenry could perhaps be forgiven for that; it was charged as an error, one of four committed by the Rockies. Rizzo then hit a fly ball to left that scored Hendricks.
On the WGN telecast, Len & JD were talking about how innings like that should put up "big crooked numbers." I'm thinking they had in mind more than "two runs" for that number, but that's all the Cubs got in that inning, and they got shut down by the rest of the Rockies' bullpen until Hawkins came on in the ninth. It was Hawkins' second blown save in as many opportunities this year.
Little things. Many times, they are the difference between winning and losing. And that showed both in what Hendricks did, and in Fowler's last-ditch homer that turned this one from defeat into victory. Sometimes people talk about games like this as "momentum-changers." It's way too early to view this as something like that, but if the Cubs do wind up contending this year, you might wind up looking back at April 12 in Colorado as a game that sent this team on the right path.
Many props once again to the Cubs' bullpen. Jason Motte (whose velocity looked just fine and whose command seems to get better with every outing), Phil Coke and Neil Ramirez kept the game close, throwing 3⅔ innings and not giving up any more runs (allowing a total of just two hits and striking out four) until Fowler came up and put the Cubs ahead. Then Hector Rondon entered and finished things off for his second save of the young season.
So the Cubs will come home -- no doubt celebrating this dramatic win on the flight home -- to begin a six-game homestand Monday, with the first opponent being the Cincinnati Reds. Jon Lester will make his second 2015 start against the Reds' Mike Leake.