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Cubs 4, Rays 2: Keegan Thompson to the rescue, again

The Cubs righthander slammed the door on the visitors from Tampa Bay.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Kyle Hendricks started this game off well and for three innings, I thought The Professor was back. But Kyle started getting hit hard in the fourth inning, allowing a run, and another in the fifth, and Keegan Thompson was summoned to get out of a two-on, one-out jam.

Thompson got an inning-ending double play on one pitch, then recorded 12 more outs on just 38 additional pitches. That, plus another great game from Seiya Suzuki and homers from Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel, led the Cubs to a 4-2 win over the Rays in the first game of a three-game set.

Hendricks walked Rays leadoff hitter Brandon Lowe, then retired the next nine Tampa Bay hitters in a row.

Meanwhile, the Cubs put two on the board in the bottom of the second. Suzuki reached on what was ruled an error on Rays shortstop Taylor Walls (it could have been called a hit, too), and one out later, Wisdom launched a baseball deep into the bleachers [VIDEO].

Just how deep did that go?

The wind was blowing out Monday night — to right field. That ball didn’t need nor get any help from the wind, that was quite the blast by Wisdom.

But as I noted above, Hendricks started getting hit hard in the fourth and fifth. Even the outs he recorded in those innings were hard-hit, and the Rays posted single runs in each of those innings to tie the game.

Thompson came in and completely baffled Rays batters. He allowed just one hit over his 3⅔ innings, a single by Yandy Diaz in the fifth, and Diaz was promptly thrown out by Willson Contreras trying to steal second.

The Cubs took the lead in the seventh. Suzuki was hit by our old friend Jason Adam on a 3-2 pitch. The small gathering at Wrigley booed loudly, but there’s no way Adam was trying to hit a batter in a tie game in the late innings. Anyway, Jonathan Villar, pinch-hitting for Yan Gomes, followed with a walk. Two outs later, Ian Happ un-tied the game [VIDEO].

With two out in the bottom of the eighth, Schwindel gave the Cubs a much-desired insurance run [VIDEO].

Now, that one DID get a little push from the 16 mile per hour wind blowing from the west-northwest out to right field. The Cubs will take it.

David Robertson, who seems rejuvenated so far this year, issued a two-out walk in the ninth but then finished his fourth save with this ground ball to Wisdom [VIDEO].

That was a satisfying win over a very good team. I keep telling you that this Cubs team is better than you think it is, and I’ll stand by that.

A few other things before I wrap this recap:

  • Yes, it was cold. Very cold. Very, very cold. We’ve had worse at the ol’ ballyard, but a game time temp of 40 dropped a couple of degrees during play (which, fortunately, lasted a snappy two hours, 43 minutes, the fastest Cubs game so far this year) and the wind made it feel much colder. A few snowflakes added to the wintry feel, but it was mostly dry. It’ll be not quite as cold and less windy tonight.
  • Here’s a look at the play at second base in which Suzuki was called out trying to stretch a single into a double:

The Cubs called for a review and it was ruled “call stands.” I suspect this was one of those plays where if he had been called safe, it would have also been ruled “call stands.” Fortunately, this play had no impact on the outcome of the game. Suzuki wound up 2-for-3 — could have been 3-for-3 if that error in the second had been ruled a hit — with a run scored.

  • Paid attendance was announced as 26,615. A rough estimate was that there were about 9,000 in the house.

Circling back to the beginning of this recap, what do the Cubs do now with Thompson? He keeps bailing out other starters who get into trouble, which is quite useful. On the other hand, if he’s throwing this well, should he be in the rotation? Look at this nasty pitch:

However David Ross and the staff decide to use Thompson, he’s a valuable asset to this pitching staff.

The Cubs will go for two in a row over the Rays (and three straight overall) Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. Justin Steele gets the start for the Cubs and righthander Matt Wisler is listed as the Rays starter, but Wisler is a reliever who hasn’t thrown more than 28 pitches in any of his five outings this year, and is likely an “opener” for Tampa Bay. As noted in the series preview, lefthander Josh Fleming is likely going to follow Wisler and throw the bulk of the innings for the Rays tonight. Game time is again 6:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.

Poll

What should the Cubs do with Keegan Thompson?

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Put him in the rotation
    (173 votes)
  • 75%
    Keep him where he is, a long reliever bailing out starters
    (525 votes)
  • 0%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (2 votes)
700 votes total Vote Now