The Cubs bullpen blew a late lead to the Rockies Monday night and appeared headed for a costly defeat. Luckily, Chicago was able to stage a 9th inning rally to pull out a huge one-run victory.
Colorado took an early lead on young Jordan Wicks in the opening frame when Charlie Blackmon doubled and came home to score on a groundout by Nolan Jones. The Cubs were able to tie the score when Nick Madrigal singled home a run off of Kyle Freeland in the top of the 3rd.
Christopher Morel put the road team ahead in the 5th inning with a massive 466-foot solo home run to left. Yan Gomes padded the lead with an RBI single in the 6th, but Seiya Suzuki was thrown out at the plate trying to score a second run and Chicago was up 3-1.
466 ft home run for @christopmorel5!
Mo power in CO 💪 pic.twitter.com/6pbodFrWlw
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 12, 2023
Pete Crow-Armstrong made his much-anticipated MLB debut in the top of the 7th as a pinch-runner and was thrown out trying to steal third base. José Cuas came on in the bottom of the frame and got into big trouble with two outs. A single and a hit by pitch put two on base for rookie Hunter Goodman, who doubled to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Cuas remained in the game to face Brenton Doyle, who ripped a single to left field to bring home both runners and give the Rockies a 4-3 edge. Drew Smyly took over and got the next four outs to keep his team alive.
The Cubs began a rally on Colorado closer Tyler Kinley in the 9th, beginning with a double by Dansby Swanson and a walk by Ian Happ. The runners then stole second and third to set up Gomes for another clutch hit that put his team ahead 5-4.
Smyly got the first out in the bottom of the inning and David Ross then opted for Michael Fulmer, fresh off the injured list, to get the save. Fulmer was incredibly wild throwing five-consecutive balls then hitting a batter to put two on with one out. After a meeting with pitching coach Tommy Hottovy, something clicked for the Cubs hurler and he struck out two in a row to escape with a much-needed win. (Box score)
The double steal by Swanson and Happ was huge to put the go-ahead run into scoring position. It paid immediate dividends when Gomes singled two pitches later.
Why the Cubs Won
They kept fighting after the bullpen meltdown to regain the lead and were able to hang on and just barely get the victory.
Stats That Matter
- Wicks definitely pitched well enough to win Monday but was let down by his bullpen: 6 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 2 K, and 1 BB.
- Gomes had three hits and three RBI and continues to be incredibly clutch in 2023.
- Swanson had his third multi-hit game in a row and is starting to heat up.
- Crow-Armstrong laid down a sacrifice bunt in his first career plate appearance in the 9th.
Because of overuse and injuries, the bullpen is going to be an adventure down the stretch. The North Siders were able to overcome it in this game to pick up a thrilling victory. It would be very helpful if the offense could really explode the next two days and give the relief corps a little reprieve.