Well now, that was a baseball game.
Among other things.
David Bote, who has seemed to have a knack for getting big hits at the best possible times, went 4-for-4 with a home run and seven RBI Tuesday night, but the Cubs went through just about every possible reliever except the just-signed Craig Kimbrel before Steve Cishek struck out Ryan McMahon to preserve a 9-8 win over the Rockies, the Cubs’ third straight victory.
Whew! Let’s start at the beginning.
That beginning featured a terrific start by Yu Darvish. At last showing what the Cubs thought they had when they signed him nearly a year and a half ago, Darvish went through the first five innings allowing just one hit and a pair of walks and looking utterly dominant.
Meanwhile, German Marquez, who has given the Cubs fits in the past, was equally dominant. A pair of singles in the first three innings resulted in a pair of double plays, and the game reached the midpoint, four and a half innings, in just a bit over an hour and 10 minutes and with no runs on the board for either side.
The Cubs took care of that quickly in the bottom of the fifth with two out and no one on base. (I love rallies like those!)
Willson Contreras blooped a single to right. Jason Heyward singled to left.
Just like that, it was 3-0 Cubs. (Did I mention that the temperature had dropped from 80 midafternoon to 70 at game time to about 57 by this point, with fog rolling in? We almost had all four seasons at once Wednesday night.)
The Rockies, though, would not go pleasantly into that foggy night. Darvish retired the first hitter in the sixth, then issued a walk and two hits, making it 3-1. Joe went and got him at that point and Yu left to a well-deserved ovation.
Kyle Ryan entered and got the ground ball he was looking for, but Anthony Rizzo threw it away, a rare error. (Looked like the runner might have screened Javier Baez trying to take the throw, although the throw wasn’t great.) Another run scored, and then McMahon singled off Ryan and the game was tied. Brandon Kintzler had to clean up the damage, and he did, retiring the next two hitters to end the inning.
The Cubs got the runs right back, and more, in the bottom of the inning, Kyle Schwarber led off with a double down the right-field line and Kris Bryant was hit by a pitch. Rizzo singled in the lead run and took second on the throw in. Baez struck out, but Carlos Gonzalez walked to load the bases.
Then Marquez hit his second batter of the inning, Contreras, and the Cubs had a 5-3 lead.
Bote McBoatface’s three-run double gave him six RBI on the night and put the Cubs ahead by five.
Brad Brach. Oh, man. Well, one thing’s for sure after Brach’s awful appearance in this one. The Cubs do actually need Craig Kimbrel. Brach faced five batters, walked the first, gave up hard hits to the next three and a sacrifice fly to the fifth before Joe had mercy and replaced him with Mike Montgomery. Montgomery allowed a hit before ending the inning with a double play. The Cubs still had the lead, but now it was 8-7 instead of 8-6.
The Cubs didn’t score in the seventh, and Montgomery and Carl Edwards Jr. got through the eighth without incident.
That’s when Bote came through again with a run that turned out to be very, very important. Again, the Cubs rallied with two out and no one on base. Contreras doubled down the left-field line and Heyward walked.
Bote actually had a chance to break the Cubs franchise record for RBI in a game had he homered in that at-bat. But the RBI single gave him a career-high seven. Fun fact time!
David Bote: 7 RBI most by a #Cubs second baseman since Ryne Sandberg in the Sandberg game 6/23/1984— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 6, 2019
That run, as I mentioned, turned out to be extremely important. Joe apparently isn’t quite ready to use Pedro Strop on back-to-back nights, so Steve Cishek entered to close this one with a two-run lead.
Uh-oh. Leadoff double, RBI single, now it’s 9-8. Is Kimbrel ready yet?
Cishek then had to face the most dangerous hitter in the Rockies lineup, Nolan Arenado. He got the Rockies third baseman to hit an infield popup. Usually this would be fine, except in that fog... not an easy catch. Bryant made the play, one out.
Cishek then struck out Daniel Murphy and McMahon to end it.
Cishek, Strop and Edwards are all good relief pitchers. But honestly, now that Kimbrel is in the fold — presuming he is the Kimbrel of old — it will be nice to see them as setup men instead of closers.
The game, at least, was quite entertaining with all the runs, Darvish’s outstanding outing (much better than the final boxscore line showed), Bote’s heroics, the fog, etc. And with the Brewers again being crushed by the Marlins, this time 8-3 (What’s going on with that Miami bunch? Whatever it is, keep it up for one more game!), the Cubs took over sole possession of first place by a game, two games ahead of Milwaukee in the loss column.
A couple of other random pre-game notes: Albert Almora Jr. did the season-ticket holder autograph signing Wednesday. (I wasn’t one of those getting the signature, I just happened to walk by while he was signing). He writes lefthanded.
During Colorado’s batting practice, someone working for the Rockies stood in the outfield and blew a whistle every time a ball was headed into the bleachers (might have even been two people, at times it sounded like more than one whistle). This is a great idea as a warning to fans who might not be looking at that particular moment. The Cubs should do this.
The Cubs go for the three-game sweep over the Rox Thursday afternoon. Jose Quintana gets the start for the Cubs and the Rockies are calling up one of their minor leaguers, Peter Lambert, to make his major-league debut. (And you know the Cubs sometimes have trouble with guys like this, so I hope they have a good scouting report on Lambert.) Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via NBC Sports Chicago.