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Cubs, Cardinals split doubleheader; David Bote is the starman again

The Cubs infielder has a knack for hitting big-time home runs.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The second game of Monday’s doubleheader was filled with angst. Would the Cubs actually get a hit? Would it have been an official no-hitter if they didn’t? (The answer is no.) Then, just after Cubs Twitter exploded with rage over two bunt attempts the team made in the sixth inning, David Bote made all that moot [VIDEO].

That pitch was very, very similar to the one Bote hit almost exactly two years ago for his memorable walkoff grand slam against the Nationals — a four-seamer right at the bottom of the zone. Perfect location, and a perfect result, and the Cubs went from possibly getting swept in the doubleheader to a satisfying 5-4 win over the Cardinals.

This game was certainly not without complaint from our standpoint. The Cubs scored a run in the first inning without a hit. Cardinals starter Alex Reyes walked the bases loaded, and with two out this happened [VIDEO].

Cubs Twitter was all over that one, too, saying Kyle Schwarber shouldn’t have taken that chance. Going to disagree here — watch the overhead view. Cardinals catcher Matt Wieters spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out where the ball was, and this was a very reasonable chance by Schwarber, especially in the first inning. He wasn’t out by much, either. I didn’t have a problem with that.

Brad Miller, who had played in over 750 major-league games before this year, had never played in Wrigley Field before Monday, and he played the Redbird villain in this game, homering twice. The first was off Tyson Miller (no relation) with a man on in the second, the other off Kyle Ryan with the bases empty in the fourth. Just after Miller’s second homer, Max Schrock, a Cardinals rookie playing in his third major-league game, also homered to give St. Louis a 4-1 lead. Our old buddy Dexter Fowler went into the right-field bleachers [VIDEO] to retrieve the ball for Schrock.

So that’s amusing and all, but the Cubs are trailing by three runs and still don’t have a hit. They had further baserunners on walks in the second, third and fifth innings but could not score, and if you were sitting around thinking sad thoughts at this point, join the club.

Then came the decisive sixth, but not until after this note:

Javier Baez was hit by a pitch, and Schwarber tried to bunt. All’s well that ends well, but seriously that was not a good idea, trailing by three.

Willson Contreras cut the deficit to two [VIDEO].

Finally! That broke up the unofficial no-hit bid and brought the Cubs to within two. Then Ian Happ tried to bunt and that’s when Cubs Twitter went bonkers. I won’t bother you with the details because it all turned out all right, trust me when I say it wasn’t pretty.

Now there are two out, but Jason Heyward walked, putting the tying run on base. David Ross could have stuck with Victor Caratini in that spot, but instead sent Bote to the plate. Call it a hunch, or genius, but it worked and the Cubs had a 5-4 lead. It was the second pinch-hit home run of Bote’s career (out of 20 career homers).

It’s the sixth inning. In a normal sixth inning, you’d still have three innings’ worth of outs to go, four if you’re the “road” team, as the Cubs technically were in this game. But in a seven-inning game, now you only have to get six outs for the win.

Dan Winkler walked the first man he faced — never a good sign — but managed to get out of the inning with a foul popup and a double play. Jeremy Jeffress was the evening’s closer and he disposed of the Cardinals on only seven pitches in the seventh for his second save. (A seven-pitch save. Are you taking notes, Craig Kimbrel?)

In the first game of the doubleheader, Kyle Hendricks had allowed only one hit — a solo homer by Fowler — into the seventh. Meanwhile, this solo blast [VIDEO] by Happ was the Cubs’ only run through six.

Hendricks came out for the seventh having thrown 78 pitches, and yes, I’d have left him out there, too. But Paul Goldschmidt doubled and then Hendricks issued his first walk since July 29. He’d faced 84 consecutive batters without issuing an unintentional walk, and of the two walks Kyle issued in that July 29 game, one was intentional.

A single by Matt Carpenter loaded the bases, but Hendricks induced a ground ball and got a force at the plate.

Ross called on Rowan Wick to get out of the jam, but he didn’t. Brad Miller, who would attempt to play Cub-killer in Game 2, smacked a two-run double to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead, and after the Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, that was it, a 3-1 Cubs loss. Hendricks deserved a better fate, as the two runs that scored on Miller’s double off Wick were charged to him.

The Cubs walked nine times in Game 2, but had to rely on Bote’s home run for the win. That home run was exciting, the win was great, etc. but seriously, when a team walks that many times — in just seven innings! — you have to take advantage of them.

About the seven-inning games, they do create a very different dynamic. In a nine-inning game, if you’re in the sixth inning trailing by three (as the Cubs were in Game 2), you feel like there’s still plenty of time to come back. But in a seven-inning affair, you get to the sixth with only six outs left. That creates a sense of urgency. The Cubs did come through — and then, of course, you only have to get those six outs to win.

Despite the fact that the Cubs batted first in this game, this is considered a “home” game for statistical purposes, since the Cubs were playing in their home park. Still...

Yes. Yes, that is weird, all right. It’ll happen again Wednesday when the teams play another doubleheader (and again September 5).

The second-game win was just the sixth in franchise history where the Cubs had five runs on three hits and won the game. It’s an odd selection of games: Two from the Deadball Era, two from the late 1960s and one from 2016:

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI
1 2016-04-11 CHC CIN W 5-3 36 27 5 3 0 0 1 5
2 1969-06-25 CHC PIT W 5-2 32 25 5 3 0 1 0 3
3 1968-09-29 CHC PIT W 5-4 35 28 5 3 0 0 1 3
4 1913-06-14 CHC BRO W 5-1 31 25 5 3 2 0 0 4
5 1912-08-03 (2) CHC BRO W 5-1 39 28 5 3 1 0 0 2
Provided by View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 8/18/2020.

Just one game Tuesday as the Cubs and Cardinals meet again at Wrigley Field. Yu Darvish will start for the Cubs and Daniel Ponce de Leon will go for St. Louis. Game time is 7:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage is via Marquee Sports Network (and also FS1, with no blackouts).