While most of you were paying attention to the Cubs’ swap of Andrew Chafin to the Athletics Monday night, the team was playing a highly entertaining (if long) game against the Reds at Wrigley Field.
Javier Báez, who wasn’t supposed to play at all Monday after injuring his heel Sunday against the Diamondbacks, was sent up to pinch-hit with the bases loaded and one out in a tie game in the bottom of the ninth.
The Cubs won the game 6-5. Let’s rewind to the beginning, shall we?
Kyle Hendricks got through the first inning unscored on, in part with help from Patrick Wisdom. Jesse Winker had singled, but Wisdom threw him out trying to take second [VIDEO],
Wisdom had never played the outfield in the major leagues (and just a handful of times in the minors), but he looks pretty good out there, with a strong, accurate arm. That was his first MLB outfield assist.
Then the offense got to work in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Kris Bryant singled and then Anthony Rizzo made it 2-0 Cubs [VIDEO].
Hendricks, though, just didn’t have it in this one. Joey Votto homered in the second and Kyle was touched up for three hits in the third and the Reds tied the game 2-2.
The Cubs got a run right back in the bottom of the third. Bryant led off with a walk. Two outs later Wisdom also walked and David Bote made it 3-2 [VIDEO].
Hendricks served up another homer in the fourth, this one to Kyle Farmer, and the game was once again tied 3-3. The Cubs put some runners on base in the bottom of that inning but could not score, and Hendricks again got hit in the fifth. A single, double and two walks forced in a run to give the Reds a 4-3 lead and David Ross had mercy on Hendricks, who allowed nine hits in 4½ innings. In 21 career starts vs. the Reds Kyle has a 4.46 ERA, by far his worst against anyone he’s faced more than nine times.
Adam Morgan relieved Hendricks and got the next two hitters, but one of those outs was a groundout scoring a run to make it 5-3.
With the back-and-forth you figured the Cubs would have plenty more chances to score. In the fifth, they loaded the bases with one out and Morgan’s spot in the batting order due up. Ross sent Robinson Chirinos up to bat for Morgan and Reds manager David Bell removed his lefthanded starter, Wade Miley, for righthander Tony Santillan.
Ross then countered with Jason Heyward.
This drives me crazy. The platoon advantage is real, but not enough so that you have now burned your backup catcher in the fifth inning. In fact, LHB and RHB hit Santillan about equally and Chirinos just had a two-homer game last Friday — both homers off righthanders.
But here we are, and almost predictably, Heyward hit into an inning-ending double play.
Sigh. Now you’ve burned TWO hitters off a five-man bench and it’s the sixth inning.
The Cubs bullpen, so good most of this year, rose to the occasion. Rex Brothers, who had a 9.90 ERA and four home runs allowed in his last nine appearances, threw two scoreless innings, retiring all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh.
The Cubs got one of the two runs back in the seventh, which took a very long time because of two video reviews. Bote walked with one out and Jake Marisnick — apparently bunting for a hit — advanced him to second.
Nico Hoerner was the next hitter [VIDEO].
Bote apparently scored — but wait, the umpires ruled that a catch. On review, it was definitely trapped:
Btm 7th - @Cubs challenge call that Shogo Akiyama made the catch; call overturned, it is not a catch, the runner from second base scores and the batter-runner is placed at first base. Powered by @Mitel. pic.twitter.com/vv73cf1uMh— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) July 27, 2021
So now it’s 5-4. Nico took off for second, was called safe, but on review he was clearly out and the inning was over.
In the eighth, the Reds loaded the bases with nobody out on a single, catcher’s interference and a walk off Keegan Thompson. Thompson did a nice job of getting out of that inning scoreless with a strikeout, fly to center and another K.
In the bottom of the eighth, Willson Contreras tied the game 5-5 [VIDEO].
Bryant followed with a single, but the Cubs could not score again in that inning.
That brought in Craig Kimbrel. Last time as a Cub? Who knows?
Kimbrel, as sometimes happens, struggled with command, issuing a leadoff walk. Then Aristides Aquino singled. But Kimbrel recovered by striking out the next three hitters. Here are all three K’s [VIDEO].
On to the bottom of the ninth. Wisdom led off with an outstanding nine-pitch at-bat, going from 0-2 to a walk, his third base on balls of the game. One out later, pinch-hitter Ian Happ walked and Hoerner was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
That led to Javy’s pinch-single, which is where we came in. It was the Cubs’ fourth walkoff win of 2021, but first since May 5, when they walked off the Dodgers. The hit was off the Reds pitcher Cubs fans love to boo, Amir Garrett, and then this happened after Javy’s hit:
Javy Baez gets the better of Amir Garrett with a bases loaded pinch hit single and the @cubs complete the comeback vs the Reds 6-5. #elmago @BleacherNation @realcubsinsider #CubTogether pic.twitter.com/YFmEwEtBPN— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) July 27, 2021
The walkoff hit was not only enjoyable, but if the game had remained tied and gone to extras, Javy would have had to play defense in the 10th — he had batted for Rafael Ortega, and the Cubs had no more position players on the bench.
No matter where this season goes and who is traded away, wins like that are always fun. Hey, the Cubs have won three of their last four, for whatever that’s worth.
I’ll have more to say on the trade front later this morning, but first, a note on the Cubs’ next game, which will be Tuesday evening against the Reds at Wrigley Field. Adbert Alzolay will start for the Cubs and Vladimir Gutierrez is the scheduled starter for the Reds. Game time is again 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.