Jonathan Herrera was a backup infielder for the Cubs in 2015. He didn’t hit much — just .230/.242/.333 (29-for-126) — but played decent enough defense that the team kept him around all year.
He was best known, perhaps, for creating the “rally bucket” — putting an empty bubble-gum bucket on his head during times when the Cubs were losing games. Whether it “worked” or not, it was part of the fun atmosphere Joe Maddon helped create for the ballclub starting in 2015.
At the end of June/beginning of July, the Cubs had played a couple of close games against the Mets at Citi Field, winning the first 1-0 and the second 2-0, the second of those going 11 innings. The third and final game of the series was an afternoon contest, and to help some of his regulars get some rest — they had another afternoon game scheduled the next day at Wrigley Field, Joe started one of those “spring training split squad” lineups, giving Kris Bryant (among others) the afternoon off.
Herrera got the start at third base; he had also started at second base the previous night. Jake Arrieta was the Cubs starter against Jacob deGrom. Jake was throwing his usual outstanding 2015 game, but the game was tied 1-1 going into the sixth inning.
Mike Baxter — remember him? — singled to lead off the inning. Chris Denorfia flied to right. That brought up Herrera.
Herrera’s two-run blast gave the Cubs all the cushion they would need. Arrieta threw eight strong innings. Travis Wood finished up, and Miguel Montero added a two-run homer in the ninth to give the Cubs a 6-1 win and a season series sweep of the Mets. If only that had continued into the 2015 postseason.
Incidentally, the single for Baxter was his final big-league hit and run. He was sent to Triple-A Iowa a week later and never played in the big leagues again. Herrera hit one more big-league home run, September 6 at Wrigley Field against the Diamondbacks. After that one, he took a curtain call that no one had asked for:
But mostly, he’ll be remembered for the rally bucket.