The Cubs were looking to earn a split of their short, two-game series against the Rays in the finale Wednesday at Wrigley Field. With the help of an unlikely pinch-hit homer they were able to do just that.
The Rays wasted no time and struck quickly in the 1st inning against John Lackey. Mallex Smith singled, stole second, and was driven in by a single up the middle by Evan Longoria.
The Cubs had runners on base in every inning today, producing numerous chances to score but continued to struggle with situational hitting. Through five innings they left eight runners on base without plating a single run. The game started to get that familiar feeling to it. The Rays would tack on two more runs, one in the top of the 3rd and another in the top of the 6th, giving them a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the 6th inning Erasmo Ramirez relieved Rays starter Blake Snell and the Cubs’ bats responded. Ian Happ and Javy Baez each singled to put two on with one out. Addison Russell lined out hard to third and it started to look like another scoring chance would be wasted. Not this time. Jon Jay, pinch-hitting for John Lackey, took Ramirez deep to left-center for a three-run shot. Just like that the score was tied at 3-3.
In the bottom of the 7th the Cubs kept the momentum rolling. Kris Bryant drew a leadoff walk chasing Ramirez from the game and Lefty Adam Kolarek promptly allowed a single to Anthony Rizzo. With runners on first and second, Ben Zobrist laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Bryant and Rizzo. Happ followed singling past the drawn-in infield scoring both runners.
With the Cubs up 5-3, Carl Edwards Jr. ran into a two-out jam in the 8th inning. Mallex Smith singled and Corey Dickerson walked. Joe Maddon called on Koji Uehara to get the final out and he did, striking out Longoria to end the inning.
Anthony Rizzo plated two insurance runs in the 8th inning with a double to deep left field. That gave the Cubs a 7-3 lead. Wade Davis came on in a non-save situation and closed out the win.
Stats That Matter
- John Lackey had a nice bounce back start today: 6 IP, 3 R, 6 H, 3 K, and 0 BB. After some hard contact early Lackey settled down and kept his team in the game. It’s the most you can ask for at this point from him.
- Jon Jay’s pinch-hit homer was huge for the Cubs. It looked like it was going to be another frustrating loss before Jay flipped the script.
- Ian Happ continues to show his mettle. He started the 6th inning rally with a single and his second hit of the day put Chicago ahead in the 7th inning. Happ has suddenly become an important piece of the lineup in 2017.
It’s back to .500 again for the Cubs as their record now stands at 42-42. This is the 19th time this season the Cubs have been at the .500 mark. As frustrating as this season has been the Cubs are still only three games behind the first place Brewers, who they’ll play tomorrow.
The Cubs play a make-up game against the Brew Crew on Thursday. Mike Montgomery and Zach Davies make the pitching matchup for the 1:20 CDT start. The game will be televised on CSN-Chicago and MLB-Network (out of market).