Well now, that was certainly worth the entertainment dollar!
The Cubs again spotted the Brewers a first-inning lead, and in fact trailed until the ninth inning, when a four-run rally led by Addison Russell ’s first career walkoff homer gave them a thrilling 7-4 win over the Brewers. That ended the series with meatloaf and completed a rough homestand on a high note.
Addy’s homer? Of course you want to see it again!
97 mile per hour fastball, middle in: Crushed!
All the Cubs needed in that situation was a base hit, but Russell came through with a no-doubt-about-it three-run homer into a very strong wind blowing out off Neftali Feliz. The home-run ball is something Feliz is susceptible to. He allowed 10 home runs in 53 relief innings last year and had given up one already this year. And Brewers manager Craig Counsell had brought him into the game in the eighth inning after the Cubs had scored a run to cut the deficit to 4-3. Russell’s homer came on Feliz’s 33rd pitch of the game, which is the most pitches he’d thrown in a game in nearly a year, since April 24, 2016. He blew a save in that game, too.
It all started three and a half hours before Russell’s blast, and that after a rain delay that ran 55 minutes. It rained moderately hard for an hour or so, finishing up not long after the scheduled 1:20 p.m. game time, but the grounds crew got the field prepared well. The cold, wet weather prevented (by my estimate) about half the 34,864 announced from showing up. Maybe 18,000-20,000 were in the seats for this one, and only about half that number stuck around till the end.
Kyle Hendricks got hit hard early, allowing a pair of home runs, a two-run shot by Travis Shaw and a solo homer by Jett Bandy. Kyle has now allowed four home runs this year in 16 innings after giving up just 15 all last year in 190 innings. More concerning is the walks, because command and control and location are Kyle’s game. He walked four in this game, matching his season high from last year, and that makes seven walks in the 16 frames. Hopefully this is just a passing thing and Kyle can figure out what’s going on and make the necessary adjustments for his next start.
The Cubs thus trailed 3-0 but got one of the runs back in the bottom of the second thanks to Albert Almora Jr. [VIDEO]
That’s me in the tan-colored coat. The ball bounced right in our aisle and then immediately down toward the first row, so I really didn’t have a chance at grabbing it.
The Brewers extended their lead to 4-1 in the fourth, but then the Cubs bullpen took over after Hendricks completed the fifth. Mike Montgomery, Pedro Strop, Koji Uehara and Wade Davis combined for four shutout innings, allowing two hits and three walks. Montgomery got himself in trouble with two of those walks, eventually loading the bases in the sixth, but got out of it. This is something they’re going to have to continue to work on with Montgomery. When his curveball is on it can be devastating. But he needs to hit his spots better and throw strikes. For Montgomery that’s now seven walks allowed in 9⅔ innings this year, way too many.
The Cubs got one of the runs back in the sixth on an RBI single by Willson Contreras, and Russell blooped a single into right field [VIDEO] with runners on first and third in the eighth, making it 4-3.
That was a thing of beauty, going with the pitch on the outside part of the plate. Russell was 2-for-4, that single and the home run, and he also walked.
Then came the bottom of the ninth. Jon Jay walked with one out, and pinch-hitter Miguel Montero singled to right. Carl Edwards Jr. ran for Miggy, and Kris Bryant singled in Jay with the tying run. The runners advanced to second and third on a slow roller back to the mound by Rizzo, setting up Russell’s heroics on a 2-0 pitch.
Cubs mental skills coordinator Darnell McDonald sums up this win:
Joe Maddon echoed that thought:
#Cubs resiliency is engraved on their rings. Maddon: "It's on the ring. We don't quit. It's on the ring, man, and that's a perfect example"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) April 19, 2017
Indeed. Though it would be nice to take early leads and not always be coming from behind.
It’s always easy to say that a win like this can galvanize a team to a long winning streak. Real-life baseball doesn’t always work out that way, but the Cubs are heading to Cincinnati to face the Reds, a team they dominated in 2016. This would be a very good time to start one of those winning streaks.
The Cubs swapped around their rotation for the Reds series. Originally Jake Arrieta was to go on Friday and Jon Lester Saturday. But with the off day, Joe swapped the two. This sets up Lester to face the Pirates next week and Arrieta to go in Boston when the Cubs get there. It also means Lester won’t throw in Fenway.
Friday, then, Lester will face the Reds’ Tim Adleman. Here’s hoping for more thrills.