clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cubs 10, White Sox 7: What a comeback!

The Cubs went into this series needing to win a pair to keep in contention and avoid being sellers, and they did it after being down five runs.

Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cubs went down two runs in the first inning Wednesday night on the South Side, came back, then were down five going into the fifth inning. Things seemed bleak for the North Siders.

But as they have looked for at least the last week, they came back, scoring eight unanswered runs in a variety of ways and sweeping the brief two-game set over the White Sox by a 10-7 score. You know, just like I said they would in the series preview.

Marcus Stroman struggled yet again. Four hits allowed in the first inning produced a 2-0 White Sox lead.

But the Cubs came right back. With one out in the top of the second, Christopher Morel was hit by a pitch. Miles Mastrobuoni blooped a single into center and went to second on an error by Luis Robert Jr., with Morel taking third.

Tucker Barnhart — yes, Tucker Barnhart! — singled in Morel [VIDEO].

Mastrobuoni took third and scored on a single by Nico Hoerner [VIDEO].

But Stroman gave up that lead in the second on a two-out walk, a stolen base and RBI single by Tim Anderson. Then the Sox really teed off on Stroman in the fourth. Jake Burger led off with a home run to make it 4-2, and three more hits, a walk and infield ground ball that did not result in an out plated three more runs. The Sox had a 7-2 lead and Stroman was out of the game, once again, as in his last start, not completing the fourth inning.

BCB’s JohnW53 sent me these numbers on Stroman:

Stroman in 16 starts through June 20:
98⅔ IP, 25 ER, 34 W, 83 K, 5 HR, 2.28 ERA, .191 opponents BA

Stroman in six starts since, including Wednesday’s game:
27 IP, 24 ER, 14 W, 26 K, 3 HR, 8.00 ERA, .308 opponents BA

I don’t know what’s wrong with Stroman, but something must be. The latter numbers include his start in London, which he left with a reported blister. Still bothering him, perhaps? Whatever it is, the Cubs need to figure it out, and soon.

So the Cubs are down by five entering the fifth, but they wasted no time getting all those runs back — and more.

Mike Tauchman led off with a single, then Hoerner was hit by a pitch. Ian Happ’s single made it 7-3 [VIDEO].

A fly ball by Cody Bellinger advanced Hoerner to third, and Seiya Suzuki walked, loading the bases. Dansby Swanson struck out — it wasn’t a good night for him, with four K’s — but Morel singled in a pair to make it 7-5 [VIDEO].

That was a really nice piece of hitting, with two out and two strikes. Morel then stole second — the Cubs ran like crazy on the Sox catchers in this series — putting runners on second and third.

Then this happened [VIDEO].

Miles Mastrobuoni struck out, but the ball took a crazy bounce away from Sox catcher Seby Zavala, with Mastrobuoni reaching base and Suzuki scoring to make it a 7-6 game.

Yan Gomes was sent up to bat for Barnhart, and he was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Tauchman then came up for the second time in the inning, and this walk tied the game [VIDEO].

Yet another walk from Joe Kelly, this one drawn by Hoerner, gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO].

Happ flied out to right to end the six-run inning, in which the Cubs had only three hits, all singles, along with two hit batters and three walks, taking advantage of Sox pitchers’ wildness.

Through five innings, there had been 16 hits, six walks, two hit batters, 15 runs and 235 pitches, which isn’t too far short of the MLB average (250) for a nine-inning game.

The Cubs bullpen then made quick work of the Sox the rest of the way. Javier Assad, Julian Merryweather, Mark Leiter Jr. and Adbert Alzolay (11th save) threw 5⅔ scoreless innings, allowing just one baserunner — a one-out single by Yoan Moncada in the seventh — and striking out four, just outstanding relief work. Only three balls left the infield, all fly balls to center.

The Cubs extended the lead in the eighth with long balls, the first by Happ (his ninth) [VIDEO].

Bellinger followed that up with his 15th [VIDEO].

That ball: Crushed! [VIDEO]

That made it 10-7 and gave the pen some breathing room.

On a hot, very humid night (where, fortunately, forecasted rain never materialized), Alzolay entered for his second straight save chance. Fortunately, it took him just 10 pitches to finish things off. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].

The three hour, 18 minute game was the Cubs’ longest nine-inning game this year. Not surprising, as it featured 20 hits, eight walks and 17 runs, creating a lot of action — a game like that a year ago would likely have run close to four hours, so the pitch timer is still doing its job.

So are the Cubs, who have now won five straight and six of seven, moving to one game under .500, the closest they’ve been to the break-even mark since they won the first game over the Cardinals in London to get to 37-38. The Cubs are also 24-15 since they got swept by the Angels in Anaheim in early June. Only the Braves, Reds and Phillies have better records among N.L. teams over that time span. The Cubs remain six games out of first place in the N.L. Central, but just five behind in the loss column. The two teams they are chasing, the Reds and Brewers, don’t play each other the rest of the year, but the Cubs have six left with Milwaukee and eight remaining against Cincinnati.

In the suddenly-competitive wild-card race, the Cubs trail the third spot by 4½ games, but just three in the loss column — and only four in the loss column behind the first wild-card spot, now inhabited by the Giants.

All of this makes a selloff much less likely, especially if the Cubs can take three of four in St. Louis. Even splitting the four-game set could mean the Cubs become buyers, even on a small scale. They could use a third baseman who hits for power (Jeimer Candelario, maybe, as I suggested here last month) and some relief help (Brad Hand? Scott Barlow?)

As for the Sox, news broke after the game that they had traded pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez to the Angels for two prospects. I have a lot of friends who are Sox fans and honestly, I feel sorry for them. They have been sold a bill of goods by Sox ownership and management. Any baseball fan deserves better from their team. The Sox are likely not done selling and by the time these teams meet again at Wrigley Field next month, the South Side team will likely look very different.

I will note that after a quiet night at Guaranteed Rate Field Tuesday, Wednesday evening featured a couple of fights in the stands, including one in the section over from me. That one required several of the off-duty police who serve as Sox security to break it up. Here’s a bit of the other one:

One last conclusion from this two-game set on the South Side: The Cubs should send me to more road games. I’ve seen 10 games away from Wrigley this year and the team’s record in those games is 7-3. (Kidding. Mostly.)

The Cubs, meanwhile, move on to St. Louis for a very important four-game series against their biggest rivals, who are having a down year. It’ll be the last Cubs/Cardinals meeting this year (and yes, I still hate the balanced schedule).

The opener Thursday evening will feature Justin Steele on the mound for the Cubs and Miles Mikolas for the Cardinals. Game time is 6:45 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and MLB Network outside the Cubs and Cardinals market territories).