“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”― William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
It might not have been “greatness,” but the Chicago Cubs finally ended their 11-game losing streak, the longest for the team in nine years, with a well-played 8-3 win over the Phillies Wednesday evening at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs got right to work in the first inning — something they’d done several times during the losing streak, so it wasn’t necessarily a huge sigh of relief, not yet, anyway.
With one out, Kris Bryant reached on an error and advanced to second on a single by Anthony Rizzo.
Bryant was called out trying to get back to second, but the call was overturned on review.
That turned out to be an important reversal, because the inning would have been over. Instead, Jason Heyward gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO].
Bryant scored and Rizzo took third, where he scored on a single by Nico Hoerner [VIDEO].
Heyward continued the scoring merry-go-round by taking third on that hit, where he scored on a single by Rafael Ortega [VIDEO].
That inning was nice to see, the Cubs playing small ball. None of the balls hit in the inning was hit hard — save the line drive by Contreras that turned into an out.
With a 3-0 lead, Alec Mills put together an easy second inning, issuing a two-out walk. Then the Cubs got to extending the lead in the bottom of the second.
Joc Pederson singled with one out. After Bryant struck out, a tiny little storm popped up right over Wrigley Field and delayed the game briefly with a downpour, but for just 12 minutes. (Sorry, World Series fans, not 17 minutes. But in this case, 12 seemed appropriate.)
When the rain stopped, Rizzo put a baseball into the right field corner and ran a long way [VIDEO].
The standup triple was Rizzo’s third of the season. He scored easily on a single by Contreras [VIDEO].
A five-run lead! The Cubs hadn’t had one of those since they led 7-0 in Milwaukee a week before and... oh. Better not think about that.
But Mills was sharp. After the second-inning walk he retired eight in a row, the eighth of those outs on this nice diving catch by Heyward [VIDEO].
The Phillies got a single after that, but Mills completed five innings having allowed just two hits and a walk. He ran out of gas in the sixth; with one out, J.T. Realmuto singled, Bryce Harper doubled and Andrew McCutchen put a baseball into the bleachers and uh-oh, it’s 5-3.
Mills got one more out, then departed to a warm ovation. Rex Brothers completed the sixth with no further scoring.
And then the Cubs got those three runs right back. Hoerner led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. Two outs later, Ian Happ batted for Brothers and walked. Pederson then made it 6-3 Cub [VIDEO].
That left runners on first and second, and Patrick Wisdom — who had entered the game replacing Bryant in the fourth — drove them both in [VIDEO].
That five-run lead was enough for the Cubs. Andrew Chafin threw two innings and retired all six batters he faced and even though it was not a save situation, Craig Kimbrel — who had pitched just once during the losing streak, last Saturday in Cincinnati — entered to throw the ninth.
Kimbrel, as you might imagine for someone who’d had that long a layoff, was a bit wild and his velocity seemed down a tick.. He allowed a two-out single but then, with the remnants of the 28,860 standing, struck out Brad Miller to end it with a 97 mile per fastball [VIDEO].
And so, this list did not get updated:
LONGEST LOSING STREAKS— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) July 7, 2021
IN CUBS HISTORY
14 — 1997*
13 — 1985
13 — 1982
13 — 1944
12 — 2012
12 — 1981
12 — 1970**
11 — 2021 (6/25-CURRENT)
11 — 1973
11 — 1954
11 — 1943
*First 14 games of season
**-Finished with a winning record.
Eleven is definitely enough. One win doesn’t turn around the season, of course. Could the Cubs go on a long winning streak from here? Sure, anything can happen. Is that likely? No, but I’m sure the team will simply take one game at a time. (Incidentally, though Gordon Wittenmyer’s tweet says “1900-present,” those are the longest losing streaks in all of Cubs franchise history, no pre-1900 streak would have made the list.)
Also, for what it’s worth, the Cardinals’ loss to the Giants late Wednesday put the Cubs back in third place in the NL Central.
Regarding Bryant departing the game, it had been initially reported that he had left due to being spiked diving back into second base on that first-inning play. That turned out to not be correct, though:
David Ross: Kris Bryant is day to day after leaving tonight's game with right hamstring tightness.— Tim Stebbins (@tim_stebbins) July 8, 2021
Bryant felt better after getting work done with trainers, Ross added.
Doesn’t sound too serious. Let’s hope he’s back in the lineup tonight.
The Cubs will try to salvage a series split with the visitors from Philadelphia Thursday evening at Wrigley Field. Adbert Alzolay will start for the Cubs and Zach Eflin is the scheduled starter for the Phillies. Game time, once again, is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. The game is also being carried by ESPN outside the Cubs market territory.