What an ending. Wow. Consider all that is and was going on, including Javy Báez sitting out with a heel bruise, and then consider how it ended. Báez pinch-hitting and walking it off. I will take any moment like that I can get.
Down in the middle innings thanks to some messes of their own making, the Cubs managed to chip away and come back in this one, getting the game-tying homer from Willson Contreras in the 8th, and then the walk-off from Báez in the 9th. And for good measure, let’s enjoy Contreras’s game-tying shot:
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 27, 2021
The Cubs also got the two-run homer early from Anthony Rizzo (with Kris Bryant on base), so once again, the core guys are featuring prominently this week, just to make it particularly tough.
On the flip side of the game, so many bases-loaded, nobody-out situations for the Cubs to try to get out of (three times!), almost all self-imposed. The Reds didn’t actually do a ton of damage in those spots (three runs total). Kyle Hendricks had some uncharacteristically wild moments, which generated the first two. Keegan Thompson got into his jam with an assist from a catcher interference, but he actually managed to go strikeout, pop-out, strikeout to get out of it.
Fitting, then, that it was a bases-loaded situation that helped the Cubs walk it off in the 9th.
Hendricks also gave up a couple solo home runs, in addition to the bases loaded issues, and his night was really quite rough overall. The Reds seem to do that to him a lot, though usually in Cincinnati.
Admittedly, the Andrew Chafin trade reports threw me for a loop in terms of tracking the game in those middle innings – this week, it kinda becomes all about that stuff when it pops up.
I have no explanation for what David Ross was thinking in bringing Craig Kimbrel into the 9th inning of a tie game given everything that’s going on. Well, I mean, I have no GOOD explanation. I get that you want to win the game – and he’ll say all’s well that ends well since the Cubs did wind up walking it off in the bottom of the frame. But we’re talking about a situation with organization-altering potential this week. To risk Kimbrel’s health in that situation tonight is just a guy who is not doing the right thing for the Cubs as a whole. There was zero upside. Only downside. It took Kimbrel 28 pitches to get out of the inning – thankfully he’s just crazy good – and he seemed no worse for the wear. Obviously the odds of an injury are small in any one outing … but why risk it at all when a trade might be close and it’s a tie game?
Anyway. I don’t want to dwell on that for now, because I enjoyed the shit out of that win overall. Even the fact that David Bote, the guy you kinda suspected might walk it off, sent one to the wall in the 9th, only to be caught … it just heightened the thrill of seeing what Javy Báez did.