Are you beginning to believe in this Cubs team?
Because it would have been easy to let your mind sink into bad thoughts after they blew a 4-1 lead.
Dismiss those losing thoughts, because Cubs players apparently have. They’re learning how to win even when they don’t have their best game. That happened Saturday afternoon in Toronto, when Christopher Morel’s ninth-inning double broke a 4-4 tie and gave the Cubs a 5-4 victory.
Let’s rewind to the beginning of this one.
Justin Steele and Chris Bassitt matched zeroes for the first two innings, then the Jays got on the board first on an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the bottom of the third.
It did not take long for the Cubs to get that one back, and more. Nico Hoerner doubled leading off the fourth and Ian Happ walked.
It was mentioned on the broadcast, and you could see the look on Bellinger’s face, that he should have probably made it to second on that hit.
A couple of pitches later, that didn’t matter because Dansby Swanson smashed this three-run homer into the second deck at Rogers Centre [VIDEO].
Did I say smashed? Friends, that ball was crushed [VIDEO]!
But the lead did not hold. Whit Merrifield (remember when a lot of Cubs fans wanted them to trade for him?) hit a two-run homer off Steele in the fifth to make it 4-3 and then the Jays got runners on first and second with two out in the sixth.
That bounce off the warning track and over the wall proved very, very fortunate for the Cubs, since the runner on first had to hold and only one run could score on the play. That tied the game instead of giving Toronto the lead.
Jose Cuas — who has turned into a reliable reliever in just two weeks in a Cubs uniform — and ex-Blue Jay Julian Merryweather threw scoreless innings, the seventh and eighth. Those two doing well have expanded David Ross’ circle of trust and give him many more options for late-inning relief.
Then the Cubs put together their winning rally. Bellinger led off the ninth with a double. One out later, Morel drove him in [VIDEO].
The Cubs could not score again, so it was up to Adbert Alzolay to hold on to a one-run lead, which he did on 15 pitches (nine strikes). Here’s the final out [VIDEO].
That was an outstanding team win, with contributions from just about everyone. That’s one of the best things about this team — they pick up each other. They’re fun to watch and the winning appears to be getting contagious.
Bellinger note: His four PA in this game made him a qualified hitter, and he currently ranks fourth in BA (.331), 10th in OBP (.380), fifth in SLG (.561) and fifth in OPS (.941) in the National League. He’s a legitimate MVP candidate.
The win put the Cubs five games over .500 for the first time since April 21. That’s the season high, too, so they could go over that tomorrow. They are now in the last wild card spot by half a game over the Marlins (who also won) as well as the Reds, because Cincinnati’s game against the Pirates was postponed tonight in Pittsburgh. The Reds and Pirates will play a doubleheader Sunday. For now, the Cubs are two games behind the Brewers, who will face the White Sox again this evening on the South Side.
The Cubs clinched a series win with this victory, only the second time they’ve done so in Toronto (also in 2008). They’ll go for the series sweep Sunday afternoon with Jameson Taillon on the mound. Hyun Jin Ryu will start for the Blue Jays. Game time is 12:37 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and MLB Network outside the Cubs and Blue Jays market territories). The BCB game preview tomorrow will post at 10:30 a.m. CT.