Game Seventy-Six – Cubs 7, Reds 2 – 15 innings
WP – Spencer Patton (1-0) LP – J.J. Hoover (1-2) Save – None
Kris Bryant singled in Ben Zobrist with the go ahead run in the 15th inning. And Javier Baez launched the first Grand Slam of his career, a mammoth shot to center field that put an incredibly fun game out of reach for the Reds. And the Cubs found a way to win their 50th game of the season.
Tuesday was an amazing game, one the Cubs won and took four hours and 43 minutes to complete.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Joe Maddon does something that no one has done before. And that’s exactly what happened in the last three innings Tuesday night at the Great American Ball Park.
Joe Maddon was out of position players by the 13th inning and was quickly running out of available relief pitchers. So in the 13th inning with the game on the line, Maddon brought in Joel Peralta to face Joey Votto with two on and one out. The other half of the double switch sent Travis Wood to left field and removed Chris Coghlan from the game.
Joey Votto smoked a 1-1 pitch toward right center. Ben Zobrist made a leaping catch and doubled off Ivan De Jesus to send the game to the 14th inning. The Cubs did nothing in the top of the 14th against Blake Wood.
Spencer Patton started the 14th on the mound and retired Brandon Phillips on a fly out to center field. Maddon popped out of the dugout with a glove in his hand and waived in Travis Wood from left field. Patton grabbed an outfielder’s glove and went to left field. Wood retired Jay Bruce on a grounder to Rizzo. And Maddon made another pitching change. Patton trotted in from left field. Wood went back to left field. Patton induced a grounder to Zobrist at second base off the bat of Adam Duvall to end the inning. And the game went to the 15th tied at two.
J.J. Hoover took the hill for the Reds. Miguel Montero lined out to right field for the first out in the 15th inning. Ben Zobrist (2-for-6 with a home run, a walk and two runs scored) walked. Jason Heyward (1-for-6 with a walk) singled to right. Zobrist went to third with one out. Bryan Price brought his infield in and Kris Bryant (1-for-5 with two walks, a run scored and a RBI) singled to left. Zobrist scored and the Cubs took a 3-2 lead.
With Jason Hammel in the on deck circle to hit for Spencer Patton, Price had Hoover intentionally walk Anthony Rizzo (1-for-5 with two walks and a run scored). Hammel stepped in with the bases loaded and one out. Hammel drove a 2-1 pitch toward first. Joey Votto made a diving stop then threw a strike to the plate while sitting on his backside. Heyward was forced for the second out.
Javier Baez (1-for-7 with a home run and four RBI) put the game out of reach with the first Grand Slam of his career … a no-doubter over the wall in straight away center. Matt Szczur (1-for-7 with a double and a run scored) lined out to center to end the inning.
It appeared Pedro Strop was warming in the pen to pitch the 15th inning. Nope. Maddon had other plans. Strop played left field in the 15th inning and the only thing that would have made the game more entertaining than it was is if Strop would have caught the last out of the game. Wood retired Michael Lorenzen (swinging strikeout) and Billy Hamilton (swinging strikeout) for the first two outs. Ramon Cabrera singled to right. But Ivan DeJesus Jr. lined out to Heyward to end the game.
The Cubs improved to 3-2 in extra innings with Tuesday’s unforgettable win.
Joe Maddon used three relief pitchers in left field over the last three innings of the game. Willson Contreras, Chris Coghlan, Matt Szczur, Travis Wood, Spencer Patton and Pedro Strop all spent time in left field on Tuesday night. And Maddon’s use of Wood and Patton in the 14th inning was simply brilliant. He showed faith in his players they would get the job done. He put them in position to succeed and they delivered.
The Cubs bullpen from the 10th inning on was lights out. Justin Grimm pitched a perfect 10th inning. Carl Edwards Jr. was electric in the 11th. Edwards Jr. retired Votto (flyout to right), Phillips (swinging strikeout) and Bruce (swinging strikeout) in order to send the game to the 12th.
Trevor Cahill completed a 1-2-3 12th inning. And then Maddon manipulated the game to put his team in position to win it.
The Cubs had took a 2-0 lead into the eighth inning. Ben Zobrist led off the game with a solo homer off John Lamb and Jon Lester (1-for-3 with a RBI) singled in Matt Szczur in the fifth inning.
Jon Lester was outstanding Tuesday night. Lester made one mistake and did everything he could to get the Cubs a win … both on the mound and with the bat.
Lester took a one-hit shutout into the eighth inning. Lester retired Eugenio Suarez on a grounder to Bryant at third base, the 14th straight batter he retired on the night. The Cubs nemesis, the light-hitting Billy Hamilton worked a full count before hitting a home run down the left field line and into the stands. Hamilton’s third homer of the season, second off Lester, cut the Cubs lead to 2-1.
Jose Peraza reached on an infield single to the hole at short, the third hit of the night off Lester. Maddon made the slow walk with the tying run on first base and the top of the order due up. Hector Rondon replaced Lester.
Peraza swiped second on a 0-2 pitch to Cozart. Rondon’s fastball was too high for Ross to think about making a throw. With the tying run in scoring positon, Cozart popped Rondon’s next pitch down the first base line. Anthony Rizzo drifted over and into foul ground to make the catch. The ball carried near the stands and Rizzo went in to get it for the final out.
Jon Lester allowed one run on three hits with a walk, a hit batsman and four strikeouts. Lester made 103 pitches, 71 for strikes, in 7 2/3 innings.
Hector Rondon blew his third save of the season. And it all started with a hit batsman. The Cubs pitching staff is making a habit of not making the opposition earn it. That was the case in the ninth inning Tuesday night.
Rondon retired Joey Votto on a fly out to center for the first out in the ninth. Rondon plunked Brandon Phillips with a 0-2 pitch. Rondon jumped ahead of Jay Bruce 0-2. Bruce ripped a 1-2 pitch into right and put the tying run in scoring position. Rondon caught Adam Duvall looking (1-2 pitch) for the second out.
Eugenio Suarez smoked Rondon’s first pitch into left. Phillips rounded third and slid in just ahead of a diving tag attempt by David Ross. Matt Szczur’s throw was off the mark but Ross made it a close play. With the game tied at two and runners on first and second, Billy Hamilton popped a 3-2 pitch straight up. Bryant raced in from third, called off Rondon and caught the ball to send the game to extra innings.
With Tuesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 50-26 on the season.
The Cubs wrap up the series with the Reds on Wednesday morning (11:35am CDT). Kyle Hendricks is scheduled to face lefty Cody Reed in the finale of the three-game set.