Angry red and yellow colors lit up smartphone radars late Tuesday afternoon, the tarp stayed on Wrigley Field's infield and it looked as if Tuesday's game might be another postponement, or at the very least, delayed.
But the rain never got past downtown on its march to the north, perhaps pushed back in part by cold breezes off Lake Michigan, and so it was Chicagoans in the western and south suburbs who got clobbered by rainstorms, while those of us at Wrigley Field never saw a drop of rain fall after the ballpark opened at 5 p.m.
That was good news for a ballclub already sick of rainouts:
I'm so tired of this rain.— Tim Federowicz (@FedX19) May 10, 2016
And then the Cubs took the field and rained hits and runs down on Padres pitching, winning their eighth consecutive game, 8-7 over San Diego, but not before a bit of sketchy relief pitching in the eighth inning made this one closer than it had to be.
Jon Lester didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, but he wasn't fooling any Padres hitters. Six of the first seven outs were fly balls to at least medium depth in the outfield. Lester allowed a pair of baserunners in the third on a walk and a hit batsman, and that's about the time Cubs hitters got to work.
In the second, Ben Zobrist singled, the first of his four hits on the evening. After Javier Baez dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line for another hit, Addison Russell doubled in a run. Inexplicably, though, Russell kept going toward third even though Baez had obeyed third-base coach Gary Jones' stop sign. Russell tried to dive back into second but was thrown out. If not for that, the Cubs might have wound up with more than one run in that inning.
They exploded for four in the third on six hits, the big blows being a two-run double by Kris Bryant and an RBI single from Zobrist. One more was added in the fourth on yet another Zobrist single. By this time the Padres had a hit and a run, a solo homer by Melvin Upton Jr. That homer bounced off the left-field ribbon board and into the last row of the section just to my left.
San Diego scored two more in the fifth, and I was somewhat surprised to see Lester come out for the sixth inning, as he had thrown 93 pitches through five. He did retire the Padres 1-2-3 in that sixth inning, and maybe Joe Maddon sent Lester out for the sixth to try to save the bullpen for today's doubleheader.
The Cubs scored two more in the seventh. Russell, who went 2-for-3, tripled into the right-field corner, scoring Anthony Rizzo and Zobrist, who singled in that inning for hit number 4. Those two runs turned out to be important. Here, incidentally, are all four of Zo's hits:
On April 20, Zobrist went 0-for-3 vs. the Cardinals and was hitting .212/.333/.269. In 15 games since then he's hitting .396/.507/.717 (1.224 OPS) with two doubles, five home runs and 23 RBI.
Maddon tried to squeeze some more runs out of the seventh inning by pinch-hitting Tommy La Stella for Pedro Strop with two out and Russell on third. TLS flied to right to end the inning. Strop had thrown only three pitches in relief of Clayton Richard. Again, Maddon might have been trying to ease up the workload on Strop in anticipation of the doubleheader.
Unfortunately, Justin Grimm struggled in the eighth, even with a five-run lead. He walked Derek Norris (who, prior to this game, had walked just six times in 108 plate appearances) and gave up two singles before Adam Warren came in to relieve him with the bases loaded and one out.
Warren struck out Adam Rosales, but then up came pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson, batting for just the 14th time in his big-league career. Dickerson launched a grand slam into the right field seats. That made it 8-7 and created some Padres history:
Alex Dickerson is the first Padre in history to hit a pinch-hit salami as his first homer.— AJ Cassavell (@AJCassavell) May 11, 2016
Fortunately, Hector Rondon was up to the task and posted his seventh save in as many opportunities with a 1-2-3 ninth that included a pair of strikeouts.
The Cubs should have put this game away early; the bullpen wasn't at its best Tuesday evening, but they had enough to win. This team finds ways to win, with everyone contributing. All I can add is: keep up the good work that's resulted in this:
#Cubs now 25-6, and are 1 of 8 teams in the last 100 seasons to win at least 25 of their first 31 games— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 11, 2016
The rain held off and eventually a bit of sun showed through right at sunset:
But by game's end some fog had descended on the ballpark, and a chilly wind began to blow, enough that much of the crowd had departed. There's a fog advisory out for this morning, but no rain is expected to fall during either game Wednesday, which is good news for the tired-of-rain Tim Federowicz and his teammates.
The game preview for this afternoon's Game 1 of the split doubleheader (12:05 CT first pitch) will post at 10:30 a.m. CT.