While we are disappointed that the Cubs aren’t playing on in the 2018 postseason, we can look back and acknowledge that the 2018 regular season contained some outstanding Cubs baseball.
How could it not? They won 95 games, which is more than last year and in most years, would have been enough to win the N.L. Central. That included some tremendously exciting games.
I present to you my five top Cubs games of 2018, in chronological order. Perhaps you have a different choice, but these were my favorites.
April 14: Cubs 14, Braves 10
This game was played in absolutely the most miserable conditions I have ever seen for a game that they intended to start on time and play without interruption unless there had been a torrential downpour. It was cold (38 degrees at gametime, and that might be generous, and it dropped as the afternoon went on), windy (24 miles per hour sustained winds, and gusts higher), foggy, with unrelenting precipitation that ranged from mist to drizzle to steady light rain.
Joe Maddon, who managed in one of the worst weather games ever, Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, said this one was worse:
“I thought the 2008 World Series was the worst weather game I ever participated in,” he said. “I think it just got surpassed. That’s not baseball weather. The elements were horrific to play baseball. It’s not conducive.
“We’ll do what we’re asked or told to, but those were the worst elements I’ve ever experienced in a game. Ever. And I’ve been in some pretty bad stuff.”
The Cubs got some awful pitching from Jose Quintana and Eddie Butler and were down 9-1 going into the bottom of the third. Truth be told, when it was 10-3 going into the seventh I thought about leaving, but figured, “I’m already this cold and wet, how much worse could it get?”
And that’s when the Cubs started rallying. They made it 10-5 on a walk, triple and groundout in the seventh, then put together a nine-run eighth off four Braves relievers to complete an incredible comeback:
(Note that shown on that board were games postponed in Detroit and Minnesota that day. Yet at Wrigley, they played on in abysmal conditions.)
You can see just how cold it was in this clip [VIDEO] of Javier Baez’ game-tying double.
The comeback included the following accomplishments:
- The eight-run comeback was the Cubs’ largest since wiping out an eight-run deficit July 7, 2011 at the Nationals (down 8-0, won 10-9).
- The eighth inning marked the first time the team recorded nine runs on three hits in an inning since May 19, 1954 at the Dodgers (scored nine on three hits, four walks and three errors in the eighth to win 9-3).
- The Cubs became the first team to win by 4+ runs after trailing by 8+ runs since the Blue Jays came back from an eight-run deficit to win 14-9 over the Reds on June 20, 2014. (H/T: STATS Inc.)
June 2: Cubs 7, Mets 1 (14 innings)
The Cubs and Mike Montgomery battled the Mets and Jacob deGrom to a standstill in regulation. MiMo threw six innings, allowing one run; deGrom pitched seven innings, giving up one run with 13 strikeouts.
Then the battle of attrition began. The Cubs got eight shutout innings from the bullpen (Cory Mazzoni, Justin Wilson, Luke Farrell and Brandon Morrow), with five hits and two walks allowed, and 11 strikeouts. Five of those innings came from Farrell, who struck out seven. Cubs hitters struck out 24 times in the 14 innings.
Albert Almora Jr. broke the tie with a two-run double in the 14th; after a couple of walks loaded the bases, Ben Zobrist drove in two more and then Javier Baez came to the plate [VIDEO].
Javier Báez already has 5 career extra-inning HR— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 3, 2018
12th, 13th, 14th, 14th & 15th innings
Ryne Sandberg had 3 in his career (all in 10th inning)#Cubs
The bad thing about this game was the appearance by Morrow, an unnecessary outing in his third straight game. It’s been thought that this might have helped lead to the elbow issue that kept him away from pitching after the All-Star break.
June 6: Cubs 7, Phillies 5
The Cubs blew a 3-0 lead when Aaron Altherr, who came into the game hitting .184, hit a three-run homer off Steve Cishek in the sixth inning. Cishek had not allowed a homer in his 28 previous appearances with the Cubs.
Morrow entered to throw the ninth with that 3-3 tie intact, but he allowed a single to Altherr and a home run to Dylan Cozens. Stop me if you’ve heard this before... it was the first home run allowed by Morrow in the 2018 season after 23 previous homerless outings. It was Cozens’ first major-league home run in his third major-league game.
Ugh. Down 5-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Cubs loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a single sandwiched around a strikeout, but Ben Zobrist hit into a force play at the plate.
Up stepped Jason Heyward. Most of us were just hoping Heyward, who was on a hot streak (13-for-31, .419 over his previous seven games), might hit a single to tie the game.
On a 2-2 pitch, he did just a little bit better than that. [VIDEO]
And that hadn’t happened for a Cub for a long time. Heyward became the first Cub in nearly 50 years to hit a walkoff grand slam with the team trailing since Ron Santo did so September 25, 1968 vs. the Dodgers. Besides Heyward and Santo, at this time the only other Cub to hit a walkoff grand slam to overcome a deficit at Wrigley Field was Ellis Burton, who did so August 31, 1963 vs. Houston (H/T: Ed Hartig)
The latter fact would come into play again later in the season.
July 26: Cubs 7, Diamondbacks 6
The Cubs had lost the first two of a four-game set to Arizona at Wrigley, narrowly won the third game 2-1 and were trailing 6-4 going into the bottom of the ninth in this one.
Ben Zobrist walked to lead off the inning, and after a fly ball to center field by Javier Baez, David Bote came to bat. He went down 0-2 to Brad Boxberger and then... [VIDEO]
Not one person at Wrigley Field or watching this game on TV at that moment could possibly know that this would turn out to be Bote’s second-most exciting home run of the season. It tied the game.
Two pitches later, Anthony Rizzo won it [VIDEO].
That ball went a long, long way (despite game day reports, it did not go onto Sheffield, you can see a fan on the right field porch holding it up):
Barrel: Anthony Rizzo (13) [CHC] off Brad Boxberger [ARI]: 106.9 mph, 30 degrees (Home Run - 453 ft)— MLBExitVelocity (@MLBExitVelocity) July 26, 2018
#Cubs hit back-to-back HR with the second one being a walkoff for first time since 4/16/2004 vs Reds - Sammy Sosa & Moisés Alou— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 26, 2018
August 12: Cubs 4, Nationals 3
What a game. It began as a masterful pitchers’ duel between Cole Hamels (making just his third Cubs start, throwing seven innings, allowing one hit, striking out nine) and Max Scherzer (seven shutout innings, 11 strikeouts).
The game went 1-0 Nats into the ninth, but the Nats scored two off their former teammate Brandon Kintzler.
Ryan Madson came in to try to close it for Washington. He allowed a single and hit two batters to load the bases with two out, and Bote stepped in to pinch hit for Justin Wilson, who had replaced Kintzler.
You all know what happened on a 2-2 pitch [VIDEO].
All of these things were accomplished with Bote’s slam:
- Bote was the first Cub to belt a pinch-hit walkoff grand slam since Earl Averill, May 12, 1959 vs. Milwaukee.
- it marked the Cubs’ first walkoff grand slam when trailing by three runs since the aforementioned Ellis Burton, August 31, 1963 vs. Houston (down 5-2, won 6-5).
- Bote became the first player to hit a walkoff grand slam down three runs with two outs and two strikes on the batter (known as an “ultimate grand slam”) since Baltimore’s Chris Hoiles did it on May 17, 1996 vs. the Mariners. (Check out the score of that game, too!)
- ESPN noted that Bote is the second player in MLB history to hit a walkoff slam with his team trailing 3-0 at the time. The other was Samuel Byrd for the Reds vs. the Pirates on May 23, 1936.
- Bote’s blast was the Cubs first pinch-hit slam since David DeJesus did it May 11, 2012 in Milwaukee, and the first at Wrigley since Derrek Lee, May 19, 2007 vs. the White Sox.
I can’t ever watch that Bote slam enough. You too, probably. It was one of the best regular-season moments ever at Wrigley Field.
The best regular-season Cubs game of 2018 was...
This poll is closed
April 14: Comeback from 8-run deficit vs. Braves
June 2: Monster 14th-inning rally vs. Mets
June 6: Jason Heyward walkoff grand slam
July 26: Back-to-back homers by David Bote and Anthony Rizzo walk it off
August 12: David Bote ultimate grand slam
A different game (leave in comments)