This game had a little bit of everything: Another solid relief outing from Keegan Thompson, a blown lead and then a 10th-inning rally that included a home run.
Patrick Wisdom’s 10th-inning two-run homer capped a three-run rally from the Cubs and they defeated the Braves 6-3 after blowing a two-run lead in the bottom of the eighth.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the second. With one out, Wisdom walked and Jason Heyward singled him to third. Nick Madrigal’s ground ball scored Wisdom [VIDEO].
The game went to the third 1-0 despite two innings of struggle from Mark Leiter Jr. True, Leiter didn’t allow any runs, but he allowed a first-inning double and loaded the bases with two out in the second on a walk, hit batter and single. He did get Ozzie Albies to ground out to end the second [VIDEO].
Let’s just say that allowing no runs in two innings is better than allowing any runs, but this was still far from a good outing from Leiter, who threw 45 pitches.
The Cubs have two off days next week. They could easily skip the fifth starter’s turn in the rotation. I hope they do so.
The lead was extended to 3-0 in the third. Rafael Ortega led off the inning with a double and Seiya Suzuki doubled him in [VIDEO].
And then it was left to Keegan Thompson and another of his long relief outings to help save the day. Thompson did allow a run in the fifth, the first run he’s allowed in 2022, but he was clearly running out of gas by that point. It was still a really good outing: three innings, three hits, two walks, three strikeouts, 56 pitches (37 strikes).
Some of you are going to say the Cubs should put Thompson in the rotation. I disagree. He seems uniquely suited to this specific role and if they did that, who’s going to bail out Cubs starters who fail in the early innings? The Cubs have lucked into a pitcher who can do what Thompson is doing. Let him stay there.
Scott Effross then threw a scoreless sixth and Chris Martin, who has had a rough start to this season, had a 1-2-3 seventh. That’s important, as the Cubs can use more reliable guys to throw the middle innings.
Mychal Givens entered to throw the eighth and struck out the first two batters he faced. But then he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk, and Dansby Swanson singled in two runs to tie the game. I want you to watch this clip of Swanson’s single [VIDEO].
If Madrigal is playing in a second baseman’s normal position, that’s probably an ordinary ground out. It’s my feeling that the Cubs have been shifting way too much — teams are going the other way often on them, and this is one of the results. If shifts are modified or banned in 2023, this sort of thing won’t happen. Maybe the Cubs ought to adjust their shifting to some extent right now.
Anyway, David Robertson was then summoned to finish up the eighth, which he did by getting Albies to ground out.
The game remained tied at 3 through nine innings. Robertson struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth.
In the 10th, Ian Happ started as the Manfred man on second base.
After Frank Schwindel struck out, Contreras advanced to third on a wild pitch. Wisdom made that moot when he smashed his two-run homer [VIDEO].
At about 14 seconds into that clip, look how excited Suzuki is, jumping up and down in the dugout!
That baseball went a long, long way:
Rowan Wick was then given his first save opportunity of the season, and he came through in fine fashion. A ground out was the first out of the inning, then Wick struck out the next two hitters, including Adam Duvall to end the game [VIDEO].
That is an outstanding pitch, 96 and hitting the corner. If Wick can continue this sort of thing, the Cubs will have a good option to close when Robertson can’t.
One other thing the Cubs did well in this game: They ran a lot of long counts. The game ran 4:04 in part because Braves pitchers threw 209 (!) pitches, which is a lot even for a 10-inning game. (Cubs pitchers clocked in at 180 for the night.) This is a good thing and the more pitches Cubs batters see, theoretically the more baserunners they’ll have (11 hits and six walks in this one).
So... the Cubs have a chance for a series win in Atlanta. The last time a Cubs team did that was in 2017 (a three-game sweep). Former Braves hurler Drew Smyly will start for the Cubs and Kyle Wright gets the call for Atlanta. Game time is again 6:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. Tonight’s game should be available on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Braves market territories.