The Cubs were able to battle back in an exciting contest at a stormy Wrigley Field on Saturday, outlasting the Cardinals through delays. Chicago got a major boost to the lineup with the return of Dansby Swanson, and Cody Bellinger continued to carry his team offensively.
The Cubs used reliever Michael Fulmer as an opener and he was greeted rudely by Lars Nootbaar, who hit a home run to lead off the game. Swanson made an immediate impact, doubling in his first at-bat against Miles Mikolas in the 2nd inning and then scoring on a single from Christopher Morel to tie the game.
Drew Smyly took over in the 3rd inning and misplayed a ground ball hit back to him, setting up a two run rally that gave St. Louis a 3-1 edge. Bellinger and Swanson each had RBI singles in the bottom of the frame to even things up at three.
Smyly had major issues with two outs in the top of the 5th inning. Nolan Gorman hit a massive solo home run to right field and Willson Contreras followed with a run-scoring double to give the road team a 5-3 advantage.
The Cubs immediately responded again in the next half inning with a pair of runs on a groundout by Bellinger and a run-scoring single from Seiya Suzuki. A wild pitch from Daniel Palencia then put the Cardinals back in front in the top of the 6th.
The North Siders grabbed their first lead in the bottom of the frame with a three-run rally. Bellinger had a two-run single with the bases loaded for what would be the game-winning hit. Suzuki hit another single to add an insurance tally and put the home team ahead 8-6.
BELLI FOR THE LEAD! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/wjM8XZOZEk
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 22, 2023
After that, there was a rain delay of over an hour before play resumed in the bottom of the 7th inning. The Cubs bullpen was able to keep the score where it was and Adbert Alzolay closed out the 8-6 victory. (Box score)
The Cardinals had men on second and third with two out after Palencia’s wild pitch. Chicago’s rookie reliever was able to coax a groundout from Nolan Arenado to escape the jam and keep his team within a single run.
- The strategy to use an opener with Smyly did not work any better: 2.2 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 K, and 1 BB.
- Bellinger had four more RBI Saturday and continues to make a strong case for sticking around next year.
- Nico Hoerner got on base four times, including three hits, and scored three runs as he starts to heat up.
- Suzuki had three knocks of his own and is starting to come around, even if the power is still lacking.
It is very nice to have Swanson back in the lineup because it makes the offense much stronger. It is still likely Bellinger is traded, but every day makes it more clear how nice a fit he would be as a long-term fixture in the Cubs lineup. He is the kind of free agent they should be targeting, so why not just get him right now when he is already on the team?