The 2021 Chicago Cubs finished 20 games under .500 at 71-91.
Nevertheless, within those 71 wins there were some well-played memorable contests.
Since the 2021 Cubs were really two different teams, pre- and post-selloff, I decided to split this “best games” article into two parts. Today, the five best pre-selloff games; tomorrow, the five best, post-selloff. Games below are in chronological order.
The Cubs smashed out 17 hits (the high for the season at Wrigley Field), including four home runs, and crushed their division rivals.
The hitting star of the day was Jake Marisnick, who doubled, homered, scored three runs and drove in five. Here’s his homer [VIDEO].
In the first Wrigley Field game sold at full capacity in 2021, 35,112 paid to see the Cubs maintain a first-place tie with the Brewers.
The Cubs trailed 5-1 going into the bottom of the fifth when a three-run rally brought them to within one.
With one out in the sixth, Anthony Rizzo worked a 14-pitch at-bat off Cardinals reliever Daniel Ponce de Leon, the 14th pitch smashed into the seats for a game-tying homer. Here’s the entire at-bat [VIDEO].
Joc Pederson hit a two-run double in the seventh to break the 5-5 tie and Willson Contreras homered in the eighth to complete the scoring.
Javier Báez smashed a two-run homer in the first inning [VIDEO].
That ball was crushed!
Kyle Hendricks and the relief triumvirate of Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel held the Mets to just two hits, striking out 11. It was the fewest hits The Professor allowed in any 2021 start.
Zach Davies and the same relief triumvirate (in a slightly different order: Tepera, then Chafin, then Kimbrel) no-hit the Dodgers in Los Angeles, the first combined no-hitter in Cubs franchise history.
After walking Chris Taylor to begin the ninth inning, Kimbrel struck out the next three hitters to complete the no-hitter. Here are all three ninth-inning strikeouts [VIDEO].
For his part, Kimbrel said after the game he had no idea there was a no-hitter in progress [VIDEO].
The Cubs remained tied for first place after that win. They lost their next 11 games.
The Cubs entered the ninth inning of this game in St. Louis trailing 6-1. They pulled off their biggest ninth-inning comeback in 42 years and won the game 7-6.
I can’t write a better summary of that inning than the one in my game recap:
Patrick Wisdom led it off by striking out... but the ball got away from Yadier Molina on a wild pitch by Luis Garcia and Wisdom reached base. Nico Hoerner followed with a ground ball that was thrown away by Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong. Nico was safe and Wisdom took third. Garcia then walked Jake Marisnick on four pitches.
So the Cubs had the bases loaded with nobody out — and haven’t hit the ball out of the infield.
The Cardinals bullpen has had trouble with walks this year, and so Cardinals manager Mike Shildt brought in his closer, Alex Reyes. It didn’t matter — Reyes walked Sergio Alcántara, forcing in a run [VIDEO].
Well. Now this dull game, which entering the ninth I had hoped would end quickly so I could go to sleep, was getting interesting. Willson Contreras struck out for the first out in the inning, but Reyes then walked Anthony Rizzo to make it 6-3 [VIDEO].
So now it’s just a three-run deficit and the bases are still loaded, meaning the tying run is now on base. Javier Báez ran the count to 3-1 and I thought, “Hey, another walk works here.” Javy did something better [VIDEO].
That was really a nice piece of hitting — as you can see, it was the only pitch of the at-bat anywhere near the strike zone:
Two runs scored, it’s now 6-5. Rizzo, representing the tying run, is in scoring position on second.
Ian Happ, who was only in this game because Kris Bryant left with a minor injury, was the next hitter. You all know how much Happ has scuffled this year; there have been calls to demote him to Triple-A Iowa and perhaps even non-tender him after 2021. Coming into this at-bat, Happ was in a 3-for-28 (.107) slump in which he had struck out 12 times.
Never mind all that. Come on down, Ian Happ, you’re the hero! [VIDEO]
Unfortunately, the Cubs then lost six of their next nine, cementing Jed Hoyer’s selloff the following week.
Tomorrow: The five best games of the “new” Cubs, the guys who replaced all the players traded at the deadline.
Which is the best pre-selloff Cubs game of 2021?
This poll is closed
April 23: Cubs 15, Brewers 2
June 11: Cubs 8, Cardinals 5
June 17: Cubs 2, Mets 0
June 24: Cubs 4, Dodgers 0
July 20: Cubs 7, Cardinals 6
A different game not mentioned above (leave in comments)