I’m beginning a new series today, about Cubs home runs. You’ll remember many of these, while others are from long ago and worth remembering.
Mike Bojanowski and I went back and forth on this list for some time. Some of these remembrances are of multiple home runs in a specific game, because all the HR in that game were significant and deserve to be honored.
I also couldn’t quite come up with the right word for this series. “Important” didn’t quite seem right, because as you’ll see, the importance of some of these home runs in the grand scheme of things wasn’t that great. This one, for example. It was memorable and so was the game, but in the long run, perhaps not that important. So, maybe, “memorable” was the word? Fair, but although most of these are memorable, that wasn’t the sense I intended to convey.
Mike suggested “significant” and that’s what I’m going with. You might disagree with the order or, when the series is over let me know that I left some out, and that’s part of the fun of doing something like this.
All of these had some impact on the Chicago Cubs franchise, and that’s why they’re here. Mike’s going to write a few of these history pieces.
We are both hoping that 19 days from now, when this series will end, we will have some real baseball to discuss, or at least preparations for a 2020 season.
David Bote’s ultimate grand slam on August 12, 2018, bringing the Cubs from a two-out, two-strike, 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 win in an instant, was hit in just his 34th big-league game. Bote had a solid 2017 in Double-A and hit well in the Arizona Fall League, putting him on the Cubs prospect radar after five previous ho-hum seasons. He had three callups from Triple-A Iowa in 2018 before coming to the Cubs to stay on July 26.
Bote had started the four games previous to August 12, going 4-for-14 with a triple, but Joe Maddon gave him the night off against Max Scherzer, who dominated that game through seven innings, striking out 11. What you might not remember is that Cole Hamels also dominated the Nats through seven, allowing just one hit and striking out nine. The one hit was a single by Daniel Murphy — who would become a Cub nine days later. The hit advanced a runner to third, who then scored on a sac fly. So the game went 1-0 Nats into the eighth. Carl Edwards Jr. threw a scoreless eighth, but in the ninth, former Nat Brandon Kintzler served up two runs. Kintzler was brutally bad in 2018 for the Cubs, better last year.
Thus it was 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth. Ben Zobrist grounded out. Jason Heyward singled. Albert Almora Jr. was hit by a pitch. Kyle Schwarber popped up in foul territory. Nats reliever Ryan Madson hit Willson Contreras with a pitch, loading the bases.
That brought up Bote, pinch-hitting for Justin Wilson (who had replaced Kintzler). The count was 2-2. Madson’s fifth pitch was sent soaring into the night [VIDEO].
I can never see that enough, and most likely, neither can you.
The home run was what’s termed an “ultimate grand slam,” one that brings a team from a three-run deficit to a walkoff victory.
It’s happened 29 times in MLB history; Bote’s is still the most recent.
The slam also accomplished the following:
#Cubs - first time with multiple walkoff grand slams (Heyward & Bote) in a season since 1980 (Barry Foote & Cliff Johnson)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 13, 2018
#Cubs Bote says this was his 3rd grand slam ever. He hit 1 in high school and one in the Minors in 2015. That's it— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) August 13, 2018
Much as I would never give that experience or game back for anything, the following occurred to me when I was putting this article together. If that home run hadn’t been hit and the Cubs had lost that game, they’d have won 94 games in 2018 instead of 95 and would have finished second in the N.L. Central, something that happened anyway. But in that case they wouldn’t have had to play the tiebreaker game against the Brewers.
That would have sent them directly to the wild-card game against the Rockies on Oct. 2 — with a day off. As you surely recall, that Cubs team had to play 41 games in 42 days from late August through the end of 2018. An off day would have benefitted them. Jose Quintana, who started the tiebreaker game, would have been available in relief in the wild-card game, or he could have started the wild-card game with Jon Lester available in relief. The rest of the bullpen would have also had an extra day of rest.
Would that have made a difference in the wild-card game? We’ll never know. Bote’s ultimate grand slam was one of my most memorable moments ever at Wrigley Field and as I said, I wouldn’t want to not have that memory.
But if it hadn’t happened, maybe the Cubs’ 2018 postseason goes differently. Food for thought, anyway.