Cole Hamels looked absolutely phenomenal Sunday night, pitching seven strong innings in his Cubs home debut. He retired the last 15 batters that came to the plate against him, and 21 of the 23 batters he faced overall. Max Scherzer was just a little bit better than Hamels, which made for a great pitchers’ duel.
No Cubs batter reached second base until the 7 inning, but the boys in blue pinstripes were able to load the bases with two outs in the top of the 9th to set the stage for David Bote’s greatness. He did not disappoint, sending Cubs fans everywhere to bed happy by walking it off with a golden grand slam (box score).
Why the Cubs Won
David Bote absolutely murdered a quality 2-2 offering from Ryan Madson. The exit velocity on the slam was 110 mph and it traveled 442 feet out to dead center. According to Bote, it was his first ever walk-off home run and the third grand slam he’d ever hit.
Bote’s walk-off was fantastic, but it was not the key moment, in my humble opinion. With one out in the 9th, Jason Heyward hit a ground ball to second. Wilmer Difo, who ironically just came into the game as a defensive replacement, fielded the ball cleanly but lost it as he was picking it out of his glove. This allowed Heyward to reach on an infield single and afforded the Cubs the opportunity to load the bases (via two hit batsmen).
Stats that Matter
- Today’s outing was Hamels’ best of the season in terms of game score. Going by ESPN’s calculation, he scored a 79, seven better than he had with the Rangers on May 11.
- Kyle Schwarber (single, walk) and Albert Almora Jr. (double, HBP) were the only Cubs batters to reach base more than once.
- The Cubs had a 1.9 percent chance to win the game after Ben Zobrist grounded out in the bottom of the 9th and a 9.9 percent chance when Contreras got hit by a pitch. Suffice to say, the Cubs had no business winning this game and still found a way to pull it off.
The legend of David Bote continues to grow. The Cubs are three games ahead of the Brewers in the Central and currently sport a 68-49 record.
The Cubs are off on Monday and will welcome the Brewers for a pair of contests starting Tuesday. The game will be broadcast on CSN Chicago and MLB Network, and first pitch will be made at 1:20 CT.