My god. That was a roller-coaster. I am dizzy. But happy!
Where do I even start?
Fresh off the Injured List, with no rehab assignment, Michael Fulmer was tasked with getting the final two outs tonight with a one-run lead. His first five pitches were nowhere close to the strike zone. His sixth hit a batter. Tying run at second. Winning run at first.
So, Tommy Hottovy came out to talk to Fulmer, ostensibly to stall for time for Mark Leiter Jr. to get hot quickly, but it all happened so fast. Fulmer was going to have to face at least one more batter. Naturally, he struck that guy out. And then the next guy? Struck him out, too, to end it. I was in blissful shock.
I cannot calm myself down.
As for how the Cubs got there with the lead in the 9th in the first place, it was Yan Gomes – FOR THE SECOND TIME TONIGHT – being all kinds of clutch:
That, in turn, came after the Cubs had blown a lead a couple innings earlier, and it felt like things were about to get really sour.
It’s not like it was a huge lead, especially at Coors Field. But blowing a two-run lead with two outs and nobody on in the 7th inning and the bottom of a bad order up … that feels bad. Really bad. It can’t happen.
It’s easy to see what the Cubs like about Jose Cuas when you watch him, and it’s not just the funky sidearm delivery. Some of the swings he gets are uncomfortable. The kind of uncomfortable that tells you batters often don’t see him well. He struck out the first two batters he faced tonight.
And then the wheels came off, because he just gets so wild. So, so wild. If he were a finished product with that stuff, he wouldn’t have been available to the Cubs. But down the stretch in a playoff race, I don’t know how you can count on him in these high-leverage spots, especially when he doesn’t have his slider available (which he must not have tonight, because he kept going back to the fastball even after they’d seen it 6 times in an at bat).
Cuas and the Cubs were fortunate that Gomes came through when he did, that Drew Smyly pitched really well, and that Michael Fulmer flipped a switch when he did.
You’re never going to convince me that “hitting the ball really hard” is a bad strategy, but good lord has it not worked out for the Cubs the last five days! Just some of the worst BABIP luck you can imagine, and it continued tonight, especially through the first four innings, when they turned FOUR batted balls with better than .580 xBA into outs. Glad it didn’t make the difference tonight, but yeesh. Cubs could’ve easily had 10+ runs tonight.
Hey, we got to see Pete Crow-Armstrong make his big league debut, as a pinch runner, albeit getting thrown out at third on a stolen base attempt. He had a huge jump, but got nailed by the most PERFECT throw and tag you could ever execute. It was a very “Welcome to The Show, kid” moment. Doubt he faced too many of those in the upper minors. Got in a sac bunt later, too, something I expect he also wasn’t tasked with doing too often in the minors.
Random, but here’s how one of the Cubs’ rallies ended (put a pin in the Yan Gomes part of it for now), on the LITERAL hardest-thrown outfield assist all year in baseball, and that’s what it took to get Seiya Suzuki by an eyelash:
The Cubs did a lot of harm to themselves tonight for sure, but they also had some truly terrible luck. I know you’re probably sick of hearing that lately, but if you’ve been watching, it’s just been true.
Anyway, back to the good stuff, particularly tonight’s battery …