Yan Gomes is kind of a quiet, under-the-radar guy. You don’t hear much about him; he just goes about his work and so far this season, he’s been a capable backup catcher, perhaps one of the better ones in baseball.
Saturday night, he homered and had a key single in the ninth inning, driving in a pair of runs. That helped lead the Cubs to a 4-2 win over the Diamondbacks.
As forecast in the game preview, this was a pitchers’ duel early between Kyle Hendricks and Zac Gallen. Hendricks struggled a bit in the first inning, issuing a walk and hitting a batter and throwing 25 pitches, but he struck out Josh Rojas to end the inning scoreless. The D-Backs pushed across a run against him in the second, and it might have been more if not for this fine catch by Jason Heyward [VIDEO].
Meanwhile, the Cubs were having trouble with Gallen, with just one baserunner through two out in the fourth.
In the fifth, Frank Schwindel hit yet another ball hard, but not quite far enough:
That’s a home run in quite a number of ballparks (including Wrigley), but not, unfortunately, at Chase Field.
Anyway, the score stayed 1-1 until the ninth inning. With Hendricks’ relatively high pitch count, he was removed with two out in the sixth and a runner in scoring position. Scott Effross, whose work has been impeccable this year, entered and struck out Nick Ahmed on three pitches. Effross should be in line for higher-leverage situations going forward, I think.
Daniel Norris, who had been a bit shaky up to this game, entered to throw the seventh and wound up striking out the side and the leadoff hitter in the eighth, a K to all four batters he faced. Mychal Givens finished up the eighth without incident.
Then the Cubs offense got to work against D-Backs closer Mark Melancon, who had handled them easily on Friday.
WIllson Contreras pushed Melancon to eight pitches before drawing a walk:
Seiya Suzuki followed with a single, and Ian Happ walked to load the bases.
Now how many times have we seen the Cubs load the bases with nobody out and not score?
Patrick Wisdom was called out on strikes, but then Rafael Ortega was sent up to bat for Schwindel. He walked, forcing in run number three [VIDEO].
The Cubs’ fourth run scored on this RBI groundout by Heyward [VIDEO].
The Cubs needed almost all of those runs, because Rowan Wick had himself a shaky bottom of the ninth. Wick issued a leadoff walk, then two singles sandwiched around a strikeout made it 4-2. But Wick recovered to strike out Pavin Smith for the second out and then finished things off with this K of Cooper Hummel on a 96 mile per hour fastball [VIDEO].
I’m going to open the complaint department door just a bit now. The Cubs were charged with two errors, one to Patrick Wisdom on a throw from third, the other to Kyle Hendricks on a missed pickoff. My opinion is that both of those errors should have been charged to Schwindel, who is really not a very good defensive first baseman. Fortunately, neither of the errors resulted in any D-Backs scoring. Schwindel looks like he might break out as a hitter given some of his recent at-bats, but let those ABs come as a DH, please.
Also, goodness, Ted Barrett had a bad day behind the plate. Fourth inning on Suzuki:
That was a really good at-bat ruined by a really awful call (pitch 10).
Ninth inning on Ortega:
As you can see, Ortega walked anyway, but you tell me: How do pitches 1 and 3 get called balls, and pitch 4 is a strike? Those three are almost all in precisely the same location!
Can’t wait to see the ump scorecard for this game. Also can’t wait for the automatic strike zone.
All right, now the complaint department is closed. The Cubs got a good outing from Hendricks, his second in a row. He’s allowed one run in his last 14⅓ innings (and just 11 baserunners) and his ERA over his last five starts is 3.16 (also, 0.957 WHIP). Apart from Wick, the Cubs also got solid bullpen work. That ninth-inning rally was nice to see, with hitters working counts and getting hits at the perfect time.
The Cubs will go for the series win Sunday afternoon at Chase Field. Justin Steele will start for the Cubs and Humberto Castellanos will go for Arizona. Game time is 3:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. The game preview will post here at 1 p.m. CT.