For a while, this recap was going to be about missed chances — the Cubs running themselves out of a possible early run, then a poor defensive play giving the Dodgers their first run.
Then it was going to be about leaving Cubs pitchers in just one batter too long, with bad results.
And then Javier Baez and Jason Heyward hit three-run homers in the same inning, and that doesn’t happen very often:
The Cubs are the first team since the Blue Jays in 2010 to hit multiple 2 out, 3 run homers (or better) in the same inning. Pretty rare feat. https://t.co/ulmZnSihpB— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 25, 2019
In the end, it was Kris Bryant being hit by a pitch and an RBI double scoring him by Anthony Rizzo that made the difference in a 7-6 Cubs win over the Dodgers on another coolish, but not unpleasant April night at Wrigley Field.
Early on, Cole Hamels didn’t allow a hit in the first three innings... but issued three walks and ran long counts on other Dodgers hitters, who seemed very adept at fouling off Hamels offerings. He’d faced only two over the minimum through three innings.
Two more walks in the fourth — yikes, this is starting to look like a 2018 Tyler Chatwood start — put runners on first and third with two out and brought up Chris Taylor, who hit a bouncer to Rizzo [VIDEO].
Well, that was just... bad. Hamels was late off the mound, forcing Rizzo to delay his throw, which Taylor beat to the bag. Then Hamels was late turning around to see Corey Seager racing for the plate, and his throw there was late. Taylor wound up on second base on a bouncer that went maybe 100 feet.
All right, still it’s just 1-0. But Hamels issued yet another walk in the fifth, and with one out in the sixth A.J. Pollock singled. By this time Hamels is way over 100 pitches, and Cody Bellinger is due up next, and yes, Joe, we know you’ve been trusting your starters to go deeper into games lately, but that was a really poor choice to let Hamels face Bellinger, who smashed a ball into the left-field seats to make it 3-0 Dodgers.
Hamels struck out seven and allowed only three hits, but man, those walks. Brad Brach got out of the inning with no further damage, and the Cubs got to work in the bottom of the inning off Walker Buehler, who had dominated the first five frames. In the third, Daniel Descalso had walked with two out and Bryant doubled down the right-field line and Brian Butterfield sent Descalso home [VIDEO].
The send was defensible; the Dodgers made two excellent relays. A tip o’ the cap.
Anyway, Descalso led off the sixth with a single. One out later, Rizzo walked and that brought up Javy [VIDEO].
That ball didn’t go too far, but look at the launch angle on that hanging slider:
[T6-2o]— Home Run Tracker (@DingerTracker) April 25, 2019
Javier Baez homers (8): fly ball to LF (3-run)
Exit velocity: 99mph
Angle: 35° pic.twitter.com/u24CXDc6Te
Well, now the game’s tied and that was it for Buehler. But the Cubs weren’t done. Just-returned new dad David Bote was next. He doubled and Willson Contreras was intentionally passed so lefty Scott Alexander could throw to Jason Heyward.
You don’t do that to the new, improved Jason Heyward [VIDEO].
This is a Jason Heyward we have not seen in his three-plus years with the Cubs, until now. Crushing an outside pitch off a lefty into the seats? More, please. J-Hey’s fifth of the year gave the Cubs a 6-3 lead. That’s the most home runs Heyward has hit in any calendar month (all five are in April) since he hit seven in August 2012... and we still have five games remaining this month. Can’t tell you how happy I am for Heyward, who has never complained or made excuses and has worked hard to get to this point. I hope this Heyward sticks around all year. Also:
Jason Heyward's 5th home run of the season— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 25, 2019
2016: July 29
2017: May 25
2018: June 29
2019: April 24
And also, about that inning:
6th inning tonight - first time #Cubs had a pair of 3+ run homers (either 3-run HR or grand slam) in the same inning since 8/6/2008, when Mark DeRosa hit a grand slam and Alfonso Soriano hit a 3-run HR.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 25, 2019
Brandon Kintzler threw a 1-2-3 seventh and let me say I’m pleased to have been wrong about him and thinking he was a DFA candidate this year. He’s been very effective.
In the last of the seventh, the Cubs scored what looked like a run that would simply take the game out of a save situation. As I mentioned above, Bryant was hit by a pitch with two out and Rizzo followed [VIDEO].
That made it 7-3. Steve Cishek entered, and who knows, maybe Kintzler will take over Cishek’s setup role, because Steve was once again ineffective in this game. He allowed a one-out single in the eighth, struck out A.J. Pollock, then gave up another single and oh, no, Joe, why did you let him face Alex Verdugo?
Seriously, why? Cishek had retired the two righthanded hitters he faced and given up hits to the two lefties who batted against him. There’s a message here, I think, and not only that, Tim Collins was warmed up and ready to come in.
But no, Cishek faced Verdugo and Verdugo smacked a three-run homer that brought the Dodgers back to within a run at 7-6.
The Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the eighth and that brought in Pedro Strop for a save opportunity, which was only the second most stressful part of his Wednesday:
Cubs closer Pedro Strop had quite the day/night. His car was stolen before the game so he was dealing with that "until the fourth inning" when he told police "I might have to pitch. I have to go." Says the car was later involved in a police chase. He... https://t.co/P3B55jOZlQ— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) April 25, 2019
“I might have to pitch. I have to go.” I mean, that line wouldn’t be quite as funny if Pedro hadn’t converted the save (his third), but he did, despite a leadoff walk. A strikeout followed, and then this double play ended the game [VIDEO].
More on Strop’s car being stolen at this link.
Like I said, what an odd little ballgame, but all’s well that ends well. With the win the Cubs go two games over .500 (12-10) for the first time this year and stand tied for second place in the N.L. Central (with the Pirates), two games behind the Cardinals, who swept the Brewers into fourth place. The Cardinals and Brewers have already played 10 times this year, and the results were probably the best the Cubs could have asked for: each team won five.
Meanwhile, the Cubs go for the series sweep over the Dodgers Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field in the homestand finale. Jon Lester will be activated from the injured list to start this one and Ross Stripling will go for the Dodgers. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage Thursday is via NBC Sports Chicago (and this broadcast will be carried outside the Cubs and Dodgers market territories on MLB Network).