You know, four hour and 12 minute nine-inning games are generally a slog.
This one, the Cubs’ come-from-behind 11-8 win over the Pirates, completing a four-game sweep, was absolutely entertaining. Tons of interesting things happened, but I’ll start with the MLB record that was tied in this game:
This Pirates/Cubs game is the 1st game with 3 grand slams total since April 21, 2015 between the Brewers and Reds— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) September 5, 2021
3 ties the single-game combined record https://t.co/jhVS6MlK1Y
I’ll get back to Schwindel’s slam a bit later. First, let’s rewind back to the beginning.
In the top of the first, an out and a home run by Yoshi Tsutsugo. Didn’t we see this game yesterday?
Zach Davies managed to get out of the first inning and the second with no further damage, and then the Cubs got to work in the bottom of the second. Matt Duffy, leading off the inning [VIDEO].
That one went a long way to the deepest part of the park:
So the Cubs led 2-1. Ah, but this game was far from over. The Pirates put four on the board in the third, courtesy of a couple of doubles (on the second, the first runner had to hold at third to see if the ball would be caught), a walk and a grand slam by Bryan Reynolds. Yikes, Zach Davies, this is just awful.
The Cubs got the runs right back, and more, in the bottom of the inning. Rafael Ortega led off with a walk, and singles by Schwindel and Ian Happ made it 5-3. A walk to Patrick Wisdom loaded the bases.
You can see the ball fall out of the stands; Pirates left fielder Ben Gamel tossed it back, which was good luck for the guy who caught it. That was Duffy’s first career multi-homer game and first grand slam and he wanted the ball, so the fan traded it for some autographed swag.
Let’s see, if I haven’t lost count, the Cubs led 7-5 after three innings.
Davies managed a 1-2-3 fourth and then got left in for the fifth, and you know why: Managers do this all the time to try to get their pitcher the “win.” This was a bad, bad idea, because Davies allowed a leadoff single and that was it for him. He threw 82 pitches to record 12 outs.
Rex Brothers came in and wasn’t much better. He managed to record a pair of outs, but not until a wild pitch and a stolen base put a runner on third, so the second out became a sac fly. Then Brothers hit a batter and issued a pair of walks. That was it for him and Manuel Rodriguez relieved him and walked in a run on the first batter he faced.
This is not good baseball, friends. At this point the game’s tied 7-7.
Adam Morgan entered to throw the sixth and put two runners on with one out, and a passed ball moved the runners up. (Hint: This is still not good baseball.) Adbert Alzolay relieved Morgan and served up an RBI single to Jacob Stallings, putting the Pirates back ahead 8-7.
But then Alzolay retired the other five hitters he faced in the sixth and seventh, so the Cubs went to the bottom of the inning down just one. After that eighth run scored I said to Mike Bojanowski, “Eight runs will not win this game.”
Thanks to Frank the Tank for proving me right. With one out in the last of the seventh, Robinson Chirinos walked. Pinch-hitter Alfonso Rivas singled him to second, and then Willson Contreras came to the plate as a pinch-hitter. He flied to left — but only because Gamel made this fantastic catch [VIDEO].
Then Ortega walked to load the bases. That was the ninth different time in this game the bases were loaded.
It didn’t make it by much, landing in the basket in left-center, but it counts just the same. The Cubs had an 11-8 lead.
Could the Cubs record six outs without allowing three runs?
Rowan Wick threw an uneventful eighth, and then, surprisingly, came out for the ninth. I guess Codi Heuer must have been unavailable for this one.
You could tell Wick was tiring out. He walked the first two Pirates he faced, bringing the tying run to the plate. Wick struck out pinch-hitter Michael Perez and then Ortega helped save Wick with this slick diving catch [VIDEO].
And then, the final out of the game, a line drive right into the sun field in right [VIDEO].
That is not an easy play at this time of year at that time of day, the sun right in Heyward’s eyes.
Hey, look. The Pirates aren’t a good team at all. But a four-game sweep is hard to do under any circumstances, and again, these guys who are being given opportunities to play are absolutely making the most of them, and good for them.
I’m particularly happy for Schwindel, who... I mean, how is he doing this? Maybe it doesn’t matter and we should just enjoy the moment. He certainly is. Over his last six games, since Tuesday, he is hitting .462/.500/1.038 (1.538 OPS). He went 12-for-26 with five home runs, seven runs scored and 12 RBI. Pretty sure that’s going to make him National League Player of the Week when those are named in the next day or so.
In addition to this game tying the MLB record for combined grand slams in a game (three), there’s this:
There have been NOW BEEN SIX grand slams MLB-wide today— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) September 5, 2021
That's tied for the 2nd-most on a single date in MLB history, with 5/21/2000 (pending the inclusion of Negro Leagues stats), behind only:
There was one previous Cubs game that had three slams, a 22-7 win over the Astros June 3, 1987. The slams were hit by Brian Dayett and Keith Moreland for the Cubs and Billy Hatcher for Houston.
It was also the third-longest nine-inning game in Wrigley Field history at 4:12, behind a 4:24 game against the Cardinals September 21, 2019 and a 4:22 game against the Brewers May 11, 2000. (The latter is the famous Glenallen Hill rooftop HR game.)
Fun? Heck yes! It will not be as easy beginning Monday when the Cubs face the Reds, who are still in wild-card contention. But maybe these Cubs have more confidence in their abilities. Who knows? Justin Steele starts Monday for the Cubs against Cincinnati’s Sonny Gray. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT for the Labor Day holiday and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.