Inches. Literal inches. That’s how close Frank Schwindel came from a two-out, go-ahead, ninth-inning Grand Slam on the road to give the Cubs their first series win since the opening set against the Brewers.
My stomach dropped, and to be honest, my heart’s still racing a little bit. And it all started with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Sorry for the following play-by-play, but this one warrants the full story.
With two outs in the top of the 9th inning, Seiya Suzuki (a late scratch tonight with ankle soreness) stepped up to the plate and laced a single into center field before being lifted for a pinch runner (Ildemaro Vargas). After that, Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch, and Ian Happ scored Vargas with yet another hit as a right-handed batter against a lefty (it’s a thing of beauty this year).
At this point, the Cubs were down just one with the game-tying run standing 90 feet away. And that’s when those pesky inches came into play yet the first time.
Padres reliever Taylor Rodgers had no clue where the ball was going and almost uncorked a wild pitch that was just barely saved by catcher Austin Nola. He saved the game right there, frankly. A few pitches later, and guess what? Inches again. Another pitch hurling anywhere but the plate struck Patrick Wisdom on the foot. If it had missed him, it would’ve sailed to the backstop and you just KNOW Contreras would’ve tried to score. Instead, it was bases loaded for Frank Schwindel.
If anybody on this team needed that moment it was Schwindel, and he almost got it. The Tank sent a 103 MPH fly ball to deep left field (.710 xBA) and everyone — and I mean everyone, from the fans to the players to the broadcast booth — seemed to think he did it. Instead, Jurickson Profar caught it with his glove literally hitting the wall (the Cubs even challenged it to see if it was a trap…it wasn’t).
Inches, man. That’s all it came down to tonight. On three separate occasions, the Padres we’re saved by inches.