The 2017 Cubs were not known as the Comeback Cubs or the Cardiac Cubs or whatever else you may have wanted to call the 2015 and 2016 squads, which seemed to have a peculiar penchant for coming back late in games. To the contrary, it “felt” like the late-game story for the 2017 Cubs was that the 8th inning was a brutal and cruel beast, designed only to torment the Cubs and their bullpen.
But that’s all just a matter of the feeling that develops over the course of the year, and not necessarily reflective of the whole season. The Cubs did have some crazy comebacks in 2017, including the time they came back from down 9-0 to the Reds to tie things up (though they ultimately lost), or the time they put up a three spot in the 9th inning to beat the Nationals back in June.
The comebacks that really stick with me, though, were the ones that came very early in the season, all the way back in April. They stick with me not necessarily because they were individually historic, but instead because the Cubs did it THREE GAMES IN A ROW.
- April 18: The Cubs went down 5-0 early to the Brewers at Wrigley Field in one of Brett Anderson’s early clunkers, and were down 7-4 in the 6th inning when the chip-chip-chipping away brought the Cubs back, and they eventually took the lead when Jon Jay scored on a wild pitch. Low point? 7.5% win probability.
- April 19: The game with Addison Russell’s walk-off shot. The deficit in this one was never huge – three runs heading into the bottom of the 6th inning – but it was enough that the Cubs were still down two in the 8th and one in the 9th. Neftali Feliz was wild, and the Cubs took advantage. That wound up bouncing him from the closer’s role, which eventually landed on Corey Knebel, who had a breakout year. So … you’re welcome, Brewers. Low point? 9.0% win probability.
- April 21: Down three runs in the 9th, the Cubs tied things up on a rocket Anthony Rizzo homer, and then Kris Bryant hit an 11th inning sac fly to win the game. Low point? 4.2% win probability.
A little mathifying says that the odds that a team would win all three of those games after being down by those amounts is about 1 in 6500.