I was all set to write a sad, dirge-like recap of this game and then in the span of four pitches, everything changed.
The Cubs trailed 2-1 with two out and nobody on base in the ninth inning. Joakim Soria, the D-backs closer, hasn’t had many save opportunities this year, but he looked like he had Cubs hitters totally fooled.
Then Rafael Ortega smacked a double into the right-field corner. On the next pitch, pinch-hitter Robinson Chirinos singled him in to tie the game [VIDEO].
Two pitches later, Willson Contreras launched a ball into the Chase Field seats [VIDEO].
Of course you want to know how far that went!
#Cubs 4 @ #Dbacks 2 [T9-2o]:— Home Run Tracker (@DingerTracker) July 17, 2021
Willson Contreras homers (14): fly ball to LF (2-run)
Hit: 404ft, 105.3mph, 31°
Pitch: 92.8mph Four-Seam Fastball (RHP Joakim Soria, 4)
Craig Kimbrel retired the side in the ninth to post his 21st save and first in almost a month (since June 20) and the Cubs defeated the Diamondbacks 4-2, getting back to the .500 mark at 46-46.
It was the first time all year the Cubs had won a game when entering the ninth inning trailing. Previously they had lost all 41 such games.
Arizona scored first, on two singles and two groundouts in the second inning off Adbert Alzolay. Remember, this is a team that has lost and lost and lost this year, so I’m sure they will take what they can get.
The second D-backs run came in part as a result of a misplay by Kris Bryant. Nick Ahmed led off the fifth with a single, then Daulton Varsho lofted a ball into short right field. KB came in, so did Rafael Ortega and Nico Hoerner, and the ball popped out of Bryant’s glove for a hit. I’m not sure whose ball that was, but someone should have caught it.
Alzolay induced a double-play ball after that, but Josh Rojas singled in a run to make it 2-0 Arizona. Alzolay threw pretty well, but again, two runs in five innings is... okay, not great, and he had to leave for a pinch-hitter. And among his 69 pitches were... zero changeups. Despite having a great slider, I think Alzolay is going to have to develop a changeup in order to be a really effective MLB starting pitcher. The talent is there, there’s just one more thing to do, in my opinion.
The Cubs put a run on the board in the sixth. Contreras singled with one out and Anthony Rizzo walked. Javier Báez doubled Contreras in [VIDEO].
Bryant was the next hitter [VIDEO].
You can’t fault Rizzo for that; it’s a contact play and he was off as soon as the ball was hit. It left the Cubs trailing by a run.
Keegan Thompson, Adam Morgan and Rex Brothers put together three solid relief innings in the sixth, seventh and eighth, with no hits allowed, just one walk and five strikeouts, holding the game close until the Cubs’ amazing ninth-inning rally.
Here’s the final out of the game [VIDEO].
You know, sometimes a team has a game like this and it spurs them to a long winning streak. Remember this game in July 2015? The Cubs had been struggling and had dropped nine of 14, and they blew a three-run ninth-inning lead. Kris Bryant hit a two-run walkoff homer with two out for a 9-8 win. They lost the next day... and then reeled off 15 wins in 16 games on their way to a 97-win season.
I am not saying this WILL happen. But it could. I’ll keep hoping for wins every day and that the team somehow gets back into contention in the NL Central.
In the meantime, that was possibly the best game of the 2021 season to date.
The Cubs will go for the series sweep Sunday afternoon at Chase Field. Zach Davies will start for the Cubs and Merrill Kelly is the scheduled starter for the D-backs. Game time is again 3:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network, and also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and D-backs market territories).