It took a 41-minute rain delay, three hours and 51 minutes of baseball and two extra innings, but the Cubs won their fifth straight game Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, 6-5 over the Brewers, when Willson Contreras dumped a single into right field in the bottom of the 11th. Not only was it the Cubs’ fifth straight victory, it was their fourth straight by one run, improving their once-poor record in one-run games to 18-22.
Let’s rewind to the beginning of this busy afternoon. It rained fairly hard at Wrigley for about an hour before the game began, and the grounds crew got the field ready fairly quickly for the 2 p.m. starting time, so the delay wasn’t too long.
Marcus Stroman started things off by walking Christian Yelich. After a single advanced Yelich to third and a fly ball, Stroman induced what could have been an inning-ending double play ball. Only it wasn’t [VIDEO].
Nick Madrigal fumbled the ball on a potential DP relay, so only one out was recorded and the Brewers took a 1-0 lead.
Then Stroman got to work. From the second through the seventh inning Stroman allowed no hits and just a pair of walks. No Brewer got past first base in those six innings, a magnificent job by Stroman.
The Cubs took the lead in the fifth. Zach McKinstry led off with a walk and stole second as Christopher Morel struck out. He was caught in a rundown when Madrigal hit a comebacker, but held the rundown long enough for Madrigal to take second.
A few moments later, Contreras made that base advance irrelevant [VIDEO].
That was Willson’s 20th of the year, and that set a franchise record. This is his fourth 20-homer season, most by any Cubs catcher. Hall of Famer Gabby Hartnett had three.
The game stayed that way until the eighth, with some rain falling during the sixth and seventh. After that, the skies cleared and the sun came out for a bit. While that was going on, Nico Hoerner made some highlight-reel defensive playes that really helped Stroman.
This spin-o-rama in the sixth, from medium right field [VIDEO].
And this leaping grab to end the seventh [VIDEO].
Thus the game went to the eighth with the Cubs leading 2-1. Stroman retired the first two hitters easily. David Ross went out to remove him for lefty Steven Brault to face Yelich, but Stroman apparently talked Ross into leaving him in. Unfortunately, that backfired. Yelich singled, and Rowan Wick was summoned. Wick ran a 3-0 count on Willy Adames and then threw what JD would have called a “cookie” and Adames smashed a two-run homer to give Milwaukee a 3-2 lead.
All kudos to Stroman, that was an outstanding outing, one of his best of the year and certainly his best at Wrigley Field, where he has had struggles.
The game went to the bottom of the ninth with the Cubs trailing 3-2. Patrick Wisdom had an excellent 10-pitch at-bat and walked with one out. One out later, Rafael Ortega batted for Morel.
Have I said how much I hate Ross’ reflexive use of the platoon advantage like this? This time, though, it worked, as Ortega also walked.
That brought up Madrigal [VIDEO].
Ortega took third on the hit and Madrigal eventually took second on defensive indifference. Contreras walked, loading the bases, and with the crowd on its feet, Ian Happ took a pitch pretty much right down the middle for strike three.
(Incidentally, that’s two straight three-hit games for Madrigal, whose season OPS is now up to .605, first time it’s been over .600 since April 19. Keep it up!)
Anyway, on to Manfredball!
Brault entered to throw the 10th, and immediately gave up an RBI single to pinch-hitter Mike Brosseau, scoring the placed runner and giving Milwaukee the lead. Then he hit Tyrone Taylor, but got the next two Milwaukee hitters. After a walk loaded the bases, Erich Uelmen was summoned to face Andrew McCutchen and struck him out.
One run in the top of an extra inning in Manfredball isn’t a disaster. With one out, Happ, the placed runner, stole third.
That ball was too shallow for Happ to score if Yelich hadn’t dropped it. The Brewers immediately appealed that Happ had left early, but that was denied. Then the Cubs challenged the call that Yelich had made the catch and dropped the ball on the transfer. If that call had been overturned, Franmil Reyes would have been on second base. But it was ruled “call confirmed,” and Hoerner flied to center to end the inning.
In the 11th, the Brewers advanced the Manfred man to third on a fly ball, and he scored on a fielder’s choice, but Uelmen got out of the inning with no further damage. Again, one run in the top of an extra inning can many times be overcome.
Here’s how the Cubs did just that.
Hoerner was the Manfred man. It took just two pitches for Wisdom to drive him in with this double [VIDEO].
P.J. Higgins sacrificed Wisdom to third. It was just the Cubs’ 10th sac bunt of this season. (For reference: They had 40 last year.)
Rafael Ortega was intentionally passed to set up a potential double play, but he took second on defensive indifference. Wisdom tried to score on a ground ball to short by Madrigal, but was tagged out at the plate. Unfortunately, he was injured on the play:
Wisdom hurt his left ring finger while sliding into home in extras. Ross said they’ll get X-rays. Expect more info Sunday morning.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) August 20, 2022
Hopefully, he’s okay.
Anyway, Ortega advanced to third on the play and while Contreras was batting, Madrigal also advanced on defensive indifference to take away the possibility of a force play.
Then Willson won the game [VIDEO].
It’s not just me, I know, it’s most or all of you who feel this way, but please, Jed Hoyer, #ExtendWillson. The team needs that bat and that energy.
It was a long, wet afternoon but certainly worth the entertainment dollar. The Cubs won their fifth straight series and are 11-4 since August 4, playing mostly good and inspired baseball. It’s fun to watch.
The Cubs will go for the series sweep Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Justin Steele, who’s been very good lately, will start for the Cubs, and he’ll have to be good, because facing him will be Brewers righthander Brandon Woodruff. Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.