Hi. It’s Michael – before you get confused by the rest.
Earlier today, Brett asked me if I’d be willing to do today’s Enhanced Box Score, because he planned on staying out in Wrigleyville after the Cubs/Yankees game. Neither he nor I thought think the game would be quite that ridiculous (win or lose, that was one crazy baseball game).
Despite the excruciatingly painful loss, there really is so much to talk about, so instead of trying to go by notability, we’ll just go (loosely) in chronological order.
First and foremost, today marked the return of Starlin Castro to Wrigley Field. As reported, the Cubs honored him with a video tribute early on and it was expectedly enjoyed by everyone. In his first trip up to the plate, Castro received an ovation, and was all smiles – he even gave a little helmet tip to Kyle Hendricks, before stepping in.
He then immediately hit a line drive to right field, where a sliding Jason Heyward made a stellar catch and, eventually, the double play:
J-Hey caught it. pic.twitter.com/YaTlTPVQUE
— MLB (@MLB) May 5, 2017
We’ll discuss Castro more in a minute, as he wound up being an important part of today’s game.
But speaking of Hendricks, his day was another relatively mixed bag. Because, while the final line sure looks great (5.1 IP, 6H, 2BB, 5Ks), he gave up a LOT of hard contact early and was a little wild, before settling into a rhythm later on. For example, in the second inning, Aaron Judge (who appears to be the new king of hard contact) hit a 19 MPH double into the gap in right center field. That hit marked his NINTH batted ball over 115 MPH this season (no one else has more than two).
Either way, the first run of the game actually came in the bottom of the first inning, when Kris Bryant crushed his team-leading (well, tied with Anthony Rizzo) sixth home run out to right. As Mike Petriello pointed out on Twitter, Bryant doesn’t hit many homers out that way, so that was very good to see (especially because that’s what he was reportedly working on over the offseason).
Following that home run, however, the Yankees’ starter, Michael Pineda, went four straight innings of no-hit ball against the Cubs, before Kyle Schwarber led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a home run (his fifth) to right. All in all, Pineda’s line was quite strong: 6.0 IP, 3H, 2ER, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts and he had the Cubs’ number for most of the day.
The most exciting play of the game (before the ninth inning ruined everything, that is), came in the top half of that inning, when the Yankees loaded the bases, with Chase Headley at the plate. Brian Duensing had come into relieve Kyle Hendricks and was in quite a jam. However, Headley decided to hit a line drive to the one guy in the Cubs outfield you should try to avoid the most. Jason Heyward made him pay for it by doubling off Starlin Castro on a play at the plate and getting the Cubs out of trouble. The catcher, Willson Contreras, went down in pain on the play, but was ultimately okay (you can read more about it from me earlier).
From there, the Cubs bullpen almost took the game home. First, Brian Duensing went 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out two. Pedro Strop came in for the eighth, and allowed just one hit and no runs, before striking out two for a clean inning. And then it was onto the ninth …
Hector Rondon managed to work the Yankees down to their final strike, but Brett Gardner took a 2-2 pitch out to right field, scoring the Yankees first – and only – three runs of the day.
The Cubs did the fake-rally thing in the ninth, as Addison Russell reached second base on error with no outs. Unfortunately, after Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward got out, Javy Baez watched two Aroldis Chapman sliders float in for strikes, before whiffing on a fastball for the final out of the game.
That was one hell of a roller coaster ride … let’s not not do it again.