You know, I had almost forgotten how much fun watching a winning baseball game could be.
The Cubs went behind early, but fought their way back and ended their team-record 13-game home losing streak on a walkoff home run by Rafael Ortega, defeating the visiting Rockies 6-4.
Let’s start at the end of this game, since that’s where all the excitement came.
Jason Heyward began the ninth pinch-hitting for Andrew Romine and singled off Daniel Bard. FWIW, Heyward has actually been good as a PH this year: 4-for-8 with a home run. Anyway, Bard then struck out another pinch-hitter, Matt Duffy.
Ortega ran the count full and then sent a baseball into the seats in right [VIDEO].
The blast didn’t go that far, but... it was far enough:
It was the fifth walkoff win for the Cubs this year, but the first on a home run. The last win before the streak, July 26, was also a walkoff, on a Javy Báez pinch single. Remember these guys?
Prior to tonight, the last Cubs' win at home featured 5 players traded on July 29-30.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 24, 2021
Rizzo homered. Bryant reached base 3x. Kimbrel struck out three. Marisnick had 2 hits. Javy walked it off.
Now let’s rewind to the beginning of what was actually a very good baseball game.
Kyle Hendricks struggled through a rough first inning in which he allowed four hits and three runs and hit a batter. It might have been worse except Ian Happ threw out Sam Hilliard trying to stretch a two-run single into a double [VIDEO].
Meanwhile, the Cubs went down lifelessly in the first five innings, with just three hits and a walk and only one runner past first base in those innings. But Hendricks also settled down and allowed just two more baserunners through the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, Frank Schwindel led off with a single and was doubled to third. After a walk loaded the bases with nobody out, the Cubs got on the board [VIDEO].
Okay, so David Bote hitting into a double play isn’t the greatest way to score a run. But, a run it was, and now it’s 3-1.
Hendricks was touched up for one more run in the seventh and the game went to the bottom of the eighth with the Cubs trailing by three.
That’s when they put together a nice three-run rally. Rockies reliever Jhoulys Chacin, who had thrown a 1-2-3 seventh, suddenly lost all control and walked the bases loaded on 12 pitches.
Bote was the next hitter... and he hit into another double play [VIDEO].
That play looked almost exactly like the first one. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the same player hit into a pair of double plays in the same game, both scoring a run.
Now it’s 4-3 and Ian Happ is on third base. Michael Hermosillo then tied the game [VIDEO].
In the top of the ninth, Manuel Rodriguez, who is getting more and more high-leverage situations, retired the side 1-2-3, one of them a strikeout of Garrett Hampson on a 98 mile per hour fastball [VIDEO].
You can see Rodriguez pitching with more confidence every time out, and you can clearly see why the Cubs kept him on the 40-man roster for almost three years before he made his MLB debut. He’d never pitched above A-ball before this year and now he could be in line to be the 2022 Cubs closer.
Anyway, after that the Cubs put together their walkoff rally and that’s where we came in. Factoid about the losing streak:
The Cubs' home losing streak spanned 28 days, the longest number of days without a win at Wrigley Field since going 29 days without a victory from May 30-June 28, 2006 via team historian Ed Hartig.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) August 24, 2021
Some photos of the walkoff:
Chicago Cubs left fielder Rafael Ortega hits a walk-off two run homer to give the Cubs a 6-4 win over the Colorado Rockies at Wrigley Field Monday in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/xv5lwGyyQY— armando l sanchez (@mandophotos) August 24, 2021
In the 13-game streak the Cubs were shut out twice and scored two or fewer runs five other times. Overall they were outscored during the streak 99-34. Enough of that, no?
When the streak began, the Cubs had a 31-18 record at Wrigley Field this year, so it dropped to .500 at 31-31, but Monday’s win kept that mark from going below .500 for the first time since the team was 4-5 at Wrigley following a series loss to the Braves back in April.
For Ortega, the homer was his seventh of the year — but first since his three-homer game in Washington August 1.
There weren’t many left at Wrigley Field to see the walkoff; I’d estimate maybe 5,000 stuck around for the end. But the crowd remnants were loud, and:
David Ross, on hearing "Go, Cubs, Go" again for the first time since July 26:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 24, 2021
"I think Mike Hermosillo said, 'I didn't know we had a theme song.' It was good, man. It was good. The crowd was into it."
The @Cubs are the first team in MLB history to hit a walkoff HR to end a 13+ game home losing streak.— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) August 24, 2021
The previous long home losing streak snapped by a walkoff HR was 12 straight by the St. Louis Browns in 1949 (snapped by Jerry Priddy's HR on May 10).
The Cubs will go for two straight at home over the Rockies Tuesday evening. Justin Steele will take the mound for the Cubs and German Marquez is the scheduled starter for the Rockies. Game time is again 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.