This was one of the windiest days ever at Wrigley Field, but oddly, only one baseball left the yard — and not hit by a Cub. The Cubs won anyway to get back over .500 at 20-19. They remained in third place in the N.L. Central, two games out of first place.
Let’s start at the end of the Cubs’ 7-5 win over the Reds Wednesday evening, because I can’t recall any game at Wrigley Field ever ending like this [VIDEO].
Joey Votto grounded to Addison Russell, who made a nice sliding stop to his left and threw a bit wide to Anthony Rizzo. First-base umpire Ed Hickox called Votto safe, indicating Rizzo’s foot was off the bag.
The review crew looked, and at least one of the angles showed Rizzo’s foot still on first base when the ball hit the back of his mitt, and the strains of “Go Cubs Go” were begun. That review could have gone either way, I suppose, but the review folks supposedly have angles that the home viewer doesn’t, and the Cubs had their second straight win over the Reds.
That was an odd ending to a wacky night when the wind was blowing probably as strong or more than any day I’ve ever spent in the ol’ ballyard. It was blowing out so strongly that the Cubs did not put any of the usual flags up except the US flag:
The retired number flags on the right- and left-field foul poles weren’t raised, either. It was a night where we might have expected multiple home runs to be hit.
Just one baseball left the yard, though. Zack Cozart of the Reds hit a solo shot off Kyle Hendricks in the third inning. Here’s how much the wind helped that one:
Zack Cozart's HR was hit 91 MPH at a 36 degree launch angle... That combination has never been a HR before and has been a hit 1% of the time pic.twitter.com/VzPmg8Lmno— Daren Willman (@darenw) May 18, 2017
That homer tied a record:
Correction: Cozart 3rd visitor, 7th player to homer in 5 consecutive games at Wrigley (Williams twice). No player has homered in 6 straight.— Reds Media Relations (@RedsPR) May 18, 2017
As noted, Cubs Hall of Famer Billy Williams had two such five-game streaks. Here are the other seven occurrences:
By the time Cozart homered, the Cubs had put a five-spot on the board in the bottom of the second off old friend Scott Feldman. Despite the gale blowing out, the inning featured no hit longer than a single. 10 men batted in the inning, and both Kyle Schwarber and Rizzo had two-run singles.
Speaking of Schwarber, he did some damage to the “Budweiser” sign on the right-field video board during batting practice [VIDEO].
I’m guessing Budweiser got enough free PR out of this to pay for any repair costs.
So after Cozart’s homer the Cubs led 5-2. The Cubs added a pair of runs in the third. With runners on second and third and one out, Hendricks laid down a perfect squeeze bunt [VIDEO].
Nicely done, especially with two strikes. Jon Jay then made it 7-2 with an RBI single.
That’s a lot of scoring early on a windy night, and the Cubs figured to go into double figures... except after that, things really slowed down scoring-wise. Hendricks slammed the door on the Reds, retiring 10 of the last 11 batters he faced. I can’t say enough good things about Hendricks’ outing, keeping the ball in the park (except for Cozart’s).
The Cubs stopped scoring after the third, too. Reliever Austin Brice came in to replace Feldman with two out in the third and retired all seven hitters he faced, six on ground balls.
In the seventh, Mike Montgomery entered and dispatched the first two hitters he faced on ground balls, and then he got into trouble. Two singles and a walk produced a run, ending Montgomery’s scoreless-inning streak at 18⅔. Montgomery’s problem continues to be command and control. He faced five hitters and went to a 3-2 count on three of them. I can’t see him ever being a successful starter unless he can get that control... under control.
Pedro Strop was summoned and he made matters worse by serving up a double to Eugenio Suarez. Now it’s 7-5 and the Cubs have to switch to late-inning relief mode. Carl Edwards Jr. had a 1-2-3 eighth. The Cubs loaded the bases on walks off Raisel Iglesias in the bottom of the inning, but could not score.
So then it was up to Wade Davis, who retired Billy Hamilton and Cozart easily before Votto’s ground ball. Here’s what Joe Maddon said about the way the game ended:
Maddon said it was "awkward" to end the game with a call being reviewed.
"I thought there was one angle that they showed on the board that indicated [Rizzo] was on the bag," Maddon said. "The others were not so encouraging. I've learned already from calls that have gone against us that they have a different look in New York and see it in an even more high-def situation and blow it up. Fortunately, it went our way."
One more strange thing happened during this game, in the first inning [VIDEO].
Kris Bryant’s line drive went right into Feldman’s glove as his bat broke. A piece of the bat stuck in the net behind the plate and couldn’t be dislodged. An inning or so later, some Wrigley staffers came out with a ladder. Precariously perching it on the net, one of them climbed up and removed the broken bat piece, yet another Wrigley first.
It was the fourth win in five tries against the Reds so far this year and put the Cubs back over .500 at 20-19. With the Cardinals blowing a 4-0 lead and losing to the Red Sox in 13 and the Brewers defeating the Padres in San Diego, Milwaukee takes over first place in the N.L. Central by half a game over St. Louis, and the Cubs trail the Brewers by two.
More good things from this game: Ben Zobrist returned to the starting lineup and had two hits, both of which were key in the run-scoring rallies. And the Cubs went 3-for-10 with RISP.
The Cubs thus win the series, their first series win in two weeks, and go for the sweep Thursday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. CT. The Cubs certainly like hitting against Reds pitching:
#Cubs have scored at least 5 runs in 24 of their last 26 games against the Reds.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 18, 2017
The wind will still be blowing out Thursday (though not as strongly as Wednesday). Jon Lester goes for the Cubs and the Reds say rookie Amir Garrett will be recalled from Triple-A Louisville to start for them.