Oh, my. It seemed like just about everything happened in that game. In the end, the Chicago Cubs (72-41) would beat the St. Louis Cardinals (60-55) on a walk-off bases loaded walk to Anthony Rizzo with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning. An incredible way to end an incredible game.
Heading into the bottom of the sixth inning the Cubs were down 2-0. After Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo led off the inning with back-to-back singles the Cardinals appeared close to getting out of trouble, striking out Ben Zobrist and forcing Addison Russell into a pop-out.
Jason Heyward was up next and he pounded the ball straight into the ground in front of home plate. The ball bounced in the air and crossed up the Cardinals’ third baseman, who couldn’t make a play. Heyward was safe and the bases were loaded with Chris Coghlan coming up.
After Coghlan worked the count full he asked for time out, which he was not granted as he started to back out of the batter’s box. Cardinals pitcher, Carlos Martinez, tossed a weak curve ball down the middle of the plate. Coghlan could only slash at the pitch and he somehow managed to smack it into center field for a two run scoring single. The game was tied and the crowd went wild.
Next man up was David Ross, who laid down an absolutely perfect bunt single. Jason Heyward crossed the plate and the Cubs had taken the lead. And suddenly Cardinal fans everywhere were sad. Like this guy, who just moments earlier was talking all kinds of trash.
Randal Grichuk would pinch hit for Cardinals’ pitcher Carlos Martinez in the top of the eighth inning. He took Travis Wood deep for a game-tying home run. After Matt Carpenter singled off Wood, Joe Maddon decided to bring on newly acquired side-arm pitcher, Joe Smith.
Smith would surrender a double to Stephen Piscotty and Matt Carpenter was waived home. A perfect relay throw from Addison Russell nailed Carpenter at the plate and the inning was over.
Aroldis Chapman would come on in the top of the ninth inning and throw three pitches to get three outs. The Cubs couldn’t score in the bottom of the ninth and the game headed into extra innings.
In the bottom of the 11th inning, after the trash talking Cardinals fan had already left, the Cubs loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Kris Bryant struck out swinging for the second out and it was up to Anthony Rizzo. Cardinals pitcher, Zach Duke would walk Rizzo allowing the game-winning run to cross the plate 3 hours and 55 minutes after the game started.
The Cubs win a big one by the score of 4-3 in 11 innings (Box Score).
Stats that mattered
- Jon Lester pitched well enough to get the win – 6.0IP, 2R, 5H, 1BB, 6Ks, 1HR
- The bullpen had mixed results tonight but came through in the end – 5.0IP, 1R, 5H, 3BB, 6Ks, 1HR
- David Ross had some big plays including a double in the bottom of the third inning that was about one inch from being a home run, a very nicely executed bunt that scored the Cubs 3rd run in the bottom of the sixth inning and, finally, a huge pick-off of Jedd Gyorko on first base that likely saved a run after Grichuk hit a game-tying home run later in the inning.
- Anthony Rizzo took a big walk that won the Cubs the game – 2-for-5, 1R, 1RBI, 1BB
That was a big win any way you slice it. By winning the first game in the four game series the Cubs can come out tomorrow and play relaxed baseball. All the pressure in this series, if it didn’t already, now rests squarely on the shoulders of the Cardinals. A loss tomorrow and they will be 14 games back from the Cubs – the baseball equivalent of Mount Everest.
The Cubs settle into the four-game series with game two on Friday afternoon at 1:20 PM CDT. Things won’t get any easier for the Cardinals, they will have to try to beat Jake Arrieta (13-5, 2.59 ERA) at home, where he has a 1.71 ERA this year.