I’m sure most Cubs fans had that sinking feeling when the team went down 4-0 in the first inning due to little league gaffes. But thankfully, the Cubs stormed back to win 17-8 while giving fans a spectacular highlight reel. Nico Hoerner mashed his first career homer on the first pitch he ever saw at Wrigley Field. Anthony Rizzo also gave Jon Lester the most hyped hug after the slugger destroyed a grand slam. It was a wild day, folks.
Tattoo this GIF onto my face, please. pic.twitter.com/Zw3ZfRPVte
— Corey Freedman (@CFCubsRelated) September 13, 2019
As noted, all was not roses and rainbows in the top half of the inning for Jon Lester and the Cubs’ defense. After a Kevin Newman single, Willson Contreras threw an unnecessary ball into centerfield on ball four to Bryan Reynolds. And then moments later, Albert Almora threw a ball in that sailed over cutoff man Rizzo’s head and dribbled to the right of home plate. As Willson Contreras scurried to collect it, Newman scampered in from home before Jon Lester could react to what the heck his defense was doing. A walk, triple, and double later and the Pirates were up 4-0 and boy did things look bleak in Mudville.
Thankfully, the Cubs going down 0-4 due to miscues didn’t matter because the offense could not be contained thanks to the howling winds and a flurry of hard-hit batted balls by the Cubs.
The greatest leadoff hitter in history, Anthony Rizzo, wasted no time getting Lester his runs back, as he singled to open the contest. Nick Castellanos then did what Big Nick Energy has done by hitting an absolute bomb: 4-2 Pirates.
Kris Bryant flew out after Castellanos’ two-run tater in the first, but Contreras narrowed the score to 4-3 with a deeeeeep homer into the back of the left-field bleachers. The Cubs weren’t done yet. Kyle Schwarber then hit a laser beam into the right-field corner for a double, and Nico Hoerner squared up on the first pitch he saw for his first MLB career homer. Boom — the Cubs turned an abysmal 4-0 deficit into a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the 1st.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Contreras led off with another bomb to make things 6-4 Cubs. After a Bote walk, Almora single, and Lester walk, the greatest leadoff hitter ever etched his name a little deeper in that marble by hitting a grand slam blast to the right-field bleachers: 10-4 Cubs.
The Cubs tacked on seven more runs after Contreras gave away three “freebie” runs. Hoerner had another 2 RBI hit, Heyward had a 3 RBI double, Tony Kemp blooped one the other way to plate Heyward, and Castellanos doubled in two more to cap the rally that all started with a replay-overturned single by Bryant with two outs. Cubs win 17-8. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs Won
You’d like to think that any time you score 17 runs, it’s a guaranteed win, but I promise you most Cubs fans did not feel good at 10-7. Adding seven more runs to shut the door on the Pirates was clutch.
The Cubs’ five-spot in the bottom of the first inning after giving up four runs in the top-half due to defensive mistakes was huge. And Rizzo at leadoff just seems to work almost every time.
Stats That Matter
- Rizzo continued to do his best Rickey Henderson impression in the top spot: 3-for-5 with 4 RBI and two runs scored is something we will take every night from the leadoff hitter.
- Contreras had a monster game, complete with two monster bombs over 450 feet. He finished the game 3-for-4 with a walk, two home runs, three runs scored, and two RBI.
- Big Nick Energy continued what we’ve come to expect by going 2-for-4 with three RBI. And what might be most impressive for him is the walk he took spitting on a 3-2 slider. Not flailing at that one was a great sign after Castellanos had gotten a little swing-happy lately.
- What can’t Nico do? Hoerner is having some fun since being called up in the San Diego series. He added another four RBI, two hits, two runs, and a walk for good measure.
- The offense as a whole scored 17 runs on 16 hits and 10 walks. That will get it done.
It was a nearly perfect way to start the last homestand of the year. I don’t want to be negative, but the loose play defensively needs to be tightened up. Other than that, it was a great sign to see the bats respond to an early deficit the way they did. If they can continue swinging the bats like this, they will find themselves in the postseason in one way, shape, or form.
The Cubs continue their series with the Bucs tomorrow afternoon at 1:20 CT. As the next day’s pitcher after a crazy blowout, Kyle Hendricks looks to keep the momentum alive as he takes on right-hander James Marvel. Let’s hope he’s anything but. The TV Broadcast can be found on NBC Sports Chicago and 670 The Score will be at your beck and call through the airwaves.