The Cubs began a seven-game road trip with a seesaw affair Monday night at Comerica Park against the Tigers. Chicago built a big lead only to see a tired bullpen give it up before a 9th inning rally earned them a tense one-run victory.
The Cubs jumped ahead on starter Alex Faedo in the top of the 2nd thanks to some shaky Detroit defense. Spencer Torkelson whiffed on a Jeimer Candelario grounder at first base to let a run score, then a second tally came home on a wild pitch. Nick Madrigal followed with a double to make it a 3-0 advantage.
Seiya Suzuki tacked on another run in the top of the 4th with a solo home run to left field. Javier Assad was good again, keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard through five innings before running into trouble in the 6th.
Two home runs in as many days for Seiya Suzuki! pic.twitter.com/EUdzZ77UNy
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 21, 2023
Torkelson and Kerry Carpenter hit back-to-back home runs in that frame to cut the lead in half. Ian Happ tripled with two outs in the 8th and came home on a single by Cody Bellinger to put the Cubs up 5-2.
The Tigers roared back against former teammate Michael Fulmer in the bottom half, loading the bases on a double, single, and a walk. At that point, old friend Javy Báez fisted a broken-bat double down the right field line to cut the lead to 5-4.
It was actually another former Cub, Zach McKinstry, who tied the game with a perfectly placed pop-up single to center field. The North Siders were able to get out of the inning with no further damage and regained the lead with back-to-back doubles by Yan Gomes and Madrigal in the 9th.
Happ knocked Madrigal in with a groundout for a very important insurance tally. Mark Leiter Jr. came in to close for Adbert Alzolay, who had worked two consecutive games, and allowed an RBI single to Matt Vierling before getting the save in the 7-6 nail-biter. (Box score)
Daniel Palencia entered in the bottom of the 8th inning with runners on the corners and one out in a tie game. Palencia got a strikeout and a foul pop-out to escape the pickle and the Cubs went on to get him a win.
Why the Cubs Won
They did not fall apart when things went sideways late, and instead battled back and gutted out a win with their top two bullpen options unavailable.
Stats That Matter
- Assad was forced to go out for another inning when he was gassed due to the limited relief options: 5.1 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 4 K, and 2 BB.
- Suzuki had three hits and is starting to drive the ball over the wall.
- Madrigal’s go-ahead double was on a pitch so far inside it almost hit him.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 22, 2023
Given the circumstances, that was a very impressive victory for the Cubs. The Tigers offense is red hot and David Ross had limited options to close out the game. They would have had ample excuses to use if they had lost. To their credit, they did not give up and got what could be a crucial win come September.
The same two teams are back at it Tuesday night at 5:40pm CT. The Cubs hope to get something decent out of Drew Smyly and the Tigers counter with Reese Olson in a contest airing on Marquee and 670 The Score.