Game Sixty-Six – Cubs 4, Twins 1 – 10 innings
WP – Jason Motte (4-1) LP – Blaine Boyer (2-3) Save – Hector Rondon (12)
With the game tied at one in the 10th inning, the Twins walked Chris Coghlan to load the bases with one out. Starlin Castro ripped the first pitch from Blaine Boyer into center field. Dexter Fowler and Anthony Rizzo scored and gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Chris Denorfia provided a little insurance with a single to right that plated Coghlan. Hector Rondon picked up the save after Starlin Castro made a leaping catch for the 27th out as the Cubs beat the Twins on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.
The Cubs improved to 7-3 in extra-inning games Saturday in large part due to the team’s much maligned defense. The Cubs had trouble stringing together any hits against the Twins staff until the 10th inning. But the defense kept them in the game, along with a well-timed challenge from Joe Maddon.
The Cubs turned three double plays Saturday. The biggest of the three came in the eighth when Dexter Fowler threw out Byron Buxton trying to advance from first base on a flyout to right center. And David Ross picked off Eduardo Rosario from first base to end the eighth inning.
As Joe Maddon talks about on a regular basis, it was a little thing that Addison Russell did in the ninth inning that might have been the difference in the game. Joe Mauer walked to start the ninth and stole second with Trevor Plouffe at the plate. Mauer was called safe. Russell held the tag on Mauer until the play was over. Maddon was told by the Cubs’ video review team to challenge the call. And they were right. Mauer came off the bag just long enough for the call to be overturned. Instead of runner on second with no outs in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game, Plouffe flied out to left center two pitches later and Jason Motte did not allow a run to score.
Jon Lester put together a very good outing. Lester made one mistake in 6 1/3 innings. Kurt Suzuki hit a mammoth homer to left with one out in the second inning. Lester retired 10 in a row, six on strikeouts, after the Suzuki home run and it was a 30-pitch fifth inning that shortened his outing. Lester did not appear to be happy with Maddon when he took him out of the game in the middle of the inning.
Jon Lester allowed one run on three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. Lester threw 102 pitches, 68 for strikes, in 6 1/3 innings.
The Cubs’ pen of Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, James Russell, Jason Motte and Hector Rondon kept the Twins off the board in relief of Lester, with a lot of help from the defense.
Anthony Rizzo (2-for-5 with a double, a RBI and a runs scored) was the Cubs’ offense until the 10th inning. Rizzo doubled down the left field on a 0-2 pitch with two outs in the third and plated Addison Russell (1-for-3 with a run scored and a HBP) with the tying run. Two of the Cubs’ four runs scored on a pair of two-out hits, one by Anthony Rizzo in the third and the other by Chris Denorfia in the 10th.
Starlin Castro (2-for-5 with two RBI), Chris Denorfia (1-for-4 with a RBI), Dexter Fowler (1-for-5 with a run scored), Chris Coghlan (1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored), Kyle Schwarber (1-for-5) and David Ross (2-for-4 with a double) recorded the other eight hits on Saturday afternoon. The Cubs were 3-for-12 with RISP and left 10 men on base.
With Saturday’s win, the Cubs improved to 36-30 on the season.
Trevor May retired the first six Cubs he faced Saturday to start the game. The Cubs were rather aggressive again and made him throw only 26 pitches, 19 for strikes, in the first two innings.
Jon Lester worked around a single, a stolen base and a walk in the first inning. Trevor Plouffe rolled into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. Lester made only 11 pitches in the first, seven for strikes. And he started the second inning off by striking out Torii Hunter looking.
Kurt Suzuki launched the first pitch from Lester, a sinker that didn’t sink, to the second deck beyond the left field wall. Suzuki gave the Twins a 1-0 lead. Lester struck out Kennys Vargas and retired Eduardo Escobar on a grounder to short to end the inning … 21 pitches for Lester after two, 15 for strikes.
The Twins led 1-0 after two innings.
Chris Denorfia was caught looking at a 2-2 pitch to start the third. David Ross flied out to the track in left center (2-2 pitch) for the second out.
Addison Russell singled to right on a 0-2 pitch. Dexter Fowler blooped a single into left and put two on with two down for Rizzo.
Anthony Rizzo delivered with two outs. Rizzo doubled down the left field line on a 0-2 pitch. Russell scored and tied the game at one. With runners on second and third, Kris Bryant could not check his swing on a 0-2 pitch and struck out swinging to end the inning.
Jon Lester sat the Twins down in order in the third. Lester made 41 pitches in the first three innings, 28 for strikes.
The Cubs and Twins were tied at one after three complete.
Lester retired 10 in a row, six on strikeouts, after Suzuki’s home run in the second inning. But the Cubs hit into inning two double plays, one in the fourth (Chris Denorfia) and one in the fifth (Dexter Fowler) and the game went to the bottom of the fifth still tied at one.
Jon Lester caught Suzuki looking and retired Vargas on a grounder to Rizzo. Escobar broke Lester’s string of retiring 10 batters in a row with a single to center on a 3-2 pitch. Escobar swiped second with Buxton at the plate. Lester did not get the call on a 3-2 pitch to Byron Buxton and walked him. With runners on first and second with two outs, Dozier hit a soft liner to Castro (2-2 pitch) for the third out. Lester threw 30 pitches in the fifth but did not allow the Twins to take the lead. Lester needed 83 pitches, 56 for strikes, to get through five innings on Saturday afternoon.
The Cubs loaded the bases in the sixth inning and came away empty.
Kris Bryant walked to start the sixth and went to third on a single to right by Chris Coghlan. Starlin Castro and Kyle Schwarber struck out swinging. And their inability to put the ball in play left it up to Denorfia. Coghlan stole second and put runners on second and third. Denorfia walked and loaded the bases. David Ross struck out swinging to end the inning.
Jon Lester faced the minimum in the sixth after the Cubs turned their second double play on the afternoon. And the game went to the seventh tied at one.
The Cubs did nothing against Casey Fien in the seventh. And Lester went back out to start the seventh after throwing 95 pitches, 63 for strikes, in six innings.
Jon Lester retired Torii Hunter on a grounder to third. Maddon decided that was enough for Lester. Maddon went to the mound and a displeased looking Lester gave him the ball. Justin Grimm gave up an infield single to Suzuki. Castro made a diving stop on a ball in the hole, but he dropped it before he could make a throw. Grimm struck out Vargas and retired Escobar on a grounder to first to end the inning. The game went to the eighth tied at one.
The Cubs went down in order against Casey Fien in the eighth. Pedro Strop made his way in from the pen for the home half.
Pedro Strop walked Byron Buxton. Brian Dozier flied out to deep right center. Fowler got himself into a perfect position to make a throw. Buxton tagged and Fowler threw a strike to Castro, who applied the tag for the out. Rosario singled to right (0-2 pitch) but with Mauer at the plate, Ross picked off Rosario from first base to end the inning.
David Ross singled to left center with two outs in the ninth against Glen Perkins. Russell worked a full count. Maddon sent in Jonathan Herrera to run for Ross once Russell ran the count to 3-2. Russell was called out on strikes to end the inning.
James Russell started the ninth and walked Joe Mauer. Maddon wasted no time and went to the pen for Jason Motte. With Trevor Plouffe at the plate, Mauer took off for second and stole the base on a 1-2 pitch. Maddon asked for a replay, and the Cubs’ skipper was given the right information. Mauer over slid the bag and lost contact for less than two seconds. Addison Russell kept the tag on Mauer and replays showed he was out.
The call was overturned and Plouffe flied out to deep left center (3-2 pitch) for the second out. Hunter singled to left center. Shane Robinson ran at first base. Motte got out of the inning when Suzuki flied out to right center for the third out.
The game went to the 10th all tied at one apiece.
Dexter Fowler reached on an infield single off Blaine Boyer to start the 10th (changed to an error after the game). Anthony Rizzo singled to center and put runners on the corners with no outs. Kris Bryant flied out to center and Buxton changed the inning. Byron Buxton caught the ball and threw all the way to the plate. Fowler stopped as Rizzo tagged and advanced to second when he saw Buxton miss the cutoff man. With runners on second and third and one down, Molitor had Boyer walk Coghlan to load the bases.
Starlin Castro ripped Boyer’s first pitch into center. Fowler and Rizzo scored, 3-1 Cubs. Schwarber flied out to left.
Chris Denorfia singled to right on a 1-2 pitch. Coghlan scored and gave the Cubs a 4-1 lead. Molitor went to his pen for lefty Aaron Thompson with runners on the corners and two out. Miguel Montero flied out to left center to end the inning.
Hector Rondon was called on for the 10th. Rondon gave up a one out single to Escobar but that was all. Starlin Castro made a leaping catch on a ball off the bat of Brian Dozier ticketed for left center to end the game.
Jake Arrieta takes on Kyle Gibson in the series finale with the Twins on Sunday afternoon (1:10pm CDT).