Tyler Chatwood walked the first Diamondbacks hitter of Sunday’s game on four pitches, and boos began to cascade around the Wrigley Field stands on a perfectly gorgeous, 70-degree April Sunday afternoon. Booing your own players except for lack of effort isn’t really justified, but I could understand it.
Then there was the sarcastic cheer after he threw a strike to the next hitter, Wilmer Flores. And then he threw another one, and then induced a double-play ball, and then...
Chatwood was dominating after that first walk. He allowed two singles and issued one more base on balls, which was also erased on a double play.
Six innings, two hits, no runs, two walks, three strikeouts? Where on Earth did that come from? Wherever and however Chatwood figured out how to do that, here’s hoping it sticks around. That was just outstanding. You know, I had forgotten this, but he had an outing just like this one about a year ago, April 29, 2018 against the Brewers: seven innings, two hits, no runs, three walks, four strikeouts. Let’s hope it’s not just an April thing.
Chatwood was in line for a win, which would have been nice, until Pedro Strop served up a one-out homer in the ninth. Fortunately, the Cubs rallied quickly off Archie Bradley in the last of the ninth, and David Bote, who seems to be good at this sort of thing, slapped a walkoff single into right field and the Cubs had a fast-paced 2-1 win, second-fastest by time so far this year at 2:28.
D-backs starter Robbie Ray was similarly throwing up zeroes at the Cubs. Anthony Rizzo doubled leading off the fourth and advanced to third on a fly to center, but was stranded. Finally, the Cubs broke through in the sixth. Rizzo was hit by a pitch with two out (and unlike his usual HBP demeanor, he did not seem happy about that one), and Javier Baez batted next [VIDEO].
You’ll note that Javy thought he had hit the ball out of the yard and didn’t run quickly at first, but when the ball bounced off the wall and away from D-backs outfielders, he slid in safely at third with an RBI triple.
Now I’m going to quibble with Joe Maddon a bit. Chatwood was cruising. He’d thrown only 71 pitches, and before the game Maddon had said Chatwood might go 75-80 pitches. So why not let him at least start the seventh inning? If he’d gotten into trouble, sure, then take him out, and let fans give him an ovation. He could probably use the psychological boost.
But off to the pen it was. Kyle Ryan entered solely to pitch to David Peralta, and after running the count to 3-1 eventually got him to ground out. Brandon Kintzler entered to pitch to Adam Jones and Eduardo Escobar and got them both on fly balls.
Steve Cishek was the next Cubs reliever. He had a 1-2-3 eighth, the Cubs didn’t score in the seventh or eighth, and so it was up to Strop, who struck out pinch-hitter Ildemaro Vargas for the first out.
Unfortunately, Jarrod Dyson got hold of a slider that Strop hung and put it in the right-field seats, a pretty good blast considering the wind was at that point slicing in from that direction. In fact, the next hitter, Flores, hit a ball toward right field that looked bad off the bat, but was caught by Jason Heyward. Strop struck out Peralta, so on we went to the last of the ninth.
These are the kinds of situations where Javy shines. He hit a ball just fair down the right-field line, and when Jones fumbled around with it, Javy never hesitated and wound up on third base. Had that just been a double, the next couple of hitters might have been approached differently.
It only took one more pitch for another baserunner, as Willson Contreras became the second Cubs HBP of the afternoon, and that brought up Bote [VIDEO].
It’s the Cubs’ first walkoff win of the season. It’s also the team’s first one-run victory of 2019, after two one-run defeats.
Chatwood’s superb outing created this fun fact:
#Cubs starters last 9 games:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 21, 2019
1.25 ERA in 57.2 ip
#Cubs pitching this season— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 21, 2019
Thru Apr 7 (9 gms): 7.51 (last in MLB)
Apr 8 on (11 gms): 1.73 (first in MLB)
As for Bote:
David Bote not available postgame. Had to leave right away to catch flight to Colorado for birth of his third child. No word if he just kept sprinting out of stadium in uniform.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 21, 2019
Talk about timely hitting.
Congratulations to the Bote family, and congratulations to the Cubs on another series win. Since the 2-7 start they’re now back to .500 again at 10-10, so that’s eight wins in the last 11 games and seven of nine. (Insert mandatory Star Trek: Voyager reference here.)
As far as Tyler Chatwood goes: I hope he can build on this start for the future. Whether he gets more starts is still up in the air — remember the Cubs have three off days between now and May 3 and there’s still the question of when Jon Lester will return from the injured list. For now, if Chatwood is needed in long relief, I think I’d trust him.
And thus the complaint department door is shut and padlocked for today. Beyond Chatwood, Baez, Bote and the result of this game, the weather was absolutely gorgeous, perfect for late April with unlimited sunshine, temperatures near 70 and light winds, light enough that the team flags went back up on the Wrigley scoreboard.
The Pirates and Brewers both lost Sunday and the Cardinals won, so the Pirates remain in first place, the Brewers and Cardinals trail by a game and the Cubs find themselves 2½ games out of first place as they enjoy Monday off before the Dodgers come to Wrigley for a three-game set beginning Tuesday evening. Jose Quintana will go for the Cubs Tuesday against Kenta Maeda for L.A. Game time Tuesday is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago.
Seven games remain in April. Think the Cubs can go 5-2? I do. That would make a perfectly fine 15-12 month (including three games in March).