After losing their first series in over a month and a half, the Chicago Cubs (35-20) took Memorial Day to rest and recharge their batteries before stealing the opener of their three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Miami Marlins (25-30). The Cubs battled back after a Jonathan Villar grand slam in the 4th inning to walk off in the 9th, via MLB The Show 20.
Kyle Hendricks started this one for the Cubs and did not fare well. He allowed a run in the top of the 1st, surrendering a one-out triple to Miguel Rojas and then a single off the bat of Corey Dickerson to make it 1-0. But Nico Hoerner evened the score in the bottom of the inning, hitting his first career leadoff home run. Hoerner’s blast went to deep left, bouncing at the back of the bleachers and out onto Waveland Avenue.
Marlins right-hander Jason Roeder wasn’t out of it yet, though. Ian Happ hit a single following Hoerner’s homer, but the red-hot Kris Bryant cooled off a bit and grounded into a double play. Anthony Rizzo was next, however, and he took Roeder deep to center field to give the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
The Cubs added to their lead in the second when Jason Heyward doubled home David Bote, who had walked in the previous at-bat. But their 3-1 lead was not safe, as Hendricks has struggled to pitch consistently so far in 2020. He loaded the bases on a double and two walks in the 4th inning, bringing up Villar, who launched a curveball into the basket in left to give the Marlins a sudden 5-3 lead.
Hendricks went just four innings in total, allowing five earned runs on six hits and two walks, striking out four in the process. Roeder wasn’t much better, going 5 1/3 with five earned runs of his own on eight hits and two walks with no strikeouts. He was able to get Rizzo to ground out leading off the 6th, but exited after surrendering singles to Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly went to former Cub Brandon Kintzler in relief of Roeder, but Kintzler served up a bomb to Bote that made the score 6-5 in favor of the Cubs. As we’ve already seen too often this fake season, the Chicago bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Jharel Cotton tossed two perfect innings in relief of Hendricks, but Dan Winkler and Danny Hultzen combined to load the bases in the 7th, with Hultzen walking in the tying run.
The score remained tied until the 9th, when the Marlins put hard-throwing right-hander Ryne Stanek on the mound. Rizzo was the first man up to bat and Stanek threw only three pitches.
It was the second homer of the game for Rizzo and his first walk-off home run of the season. He now has 14 dingers on the year and appears to be heading into a major hot streak.
Notes: Ross was impressed with the way Cotton threw the ball and said after the game that he may think about using the right-hander in more high-leverage situations … With Jon Lester on the IL for at least two weeks due to back spasms, Ross finally committed to picking a starter to take his place. Alec Mills, who has thrown exclusively in relief so far in 2020, will take the mound for the Cubs on Thursday.
Rizzo – 2-for-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI
Hoerner – 2-for-5, HR, RBI
Heyward – 2-for-3, BB, 2B, RBI
Bote – 1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
Villar – 1-for-5, HR, 4 RBI
Rojas – 3-for-5, 2B, 3B
Winning Pitcher – Jeffress (6-1)
Losing Pitcher – Stanek (2-2)
Save – None
Home Runs – Rizzo 2 (14), Bote (7), Hoerner (3), Villar (5)