Angels rally late with walk-off win over Cubs
Rick Scuteri - USA Today Sports

Angels rally late with walk-off win over Cubs

by - Senior Writer -

And then there were three. As in three games left until the start of the regular season, as the 2023 Spring Training slate is about to end. With a 15-12-1 record thus far, the Cubs have had a successful go of things as they have guaranteed themselves a winning record in Cactus League Play. That is because the Cactus League finale is Sunday before a two-game exhibition series against the White Sox sets them up for the regular season.

Looking to have as much momentum as possible when they head to Chicago, the Cubs took on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with hopes of closing out the spring late strong. Chicago got off to a great start, using a five-run third to take the lead before leading 7-2 after six. That was until a late game surge did them in, including a three-run ninth inning that saw the Angels rally for the 8-7 walk-off win.

To everyone's surprise, it wasn't Justin Steele or Drew Smyly getting the ball, but Roenis Elias, as he still hopes to make this team. With Hayden Wesneski being announced as the fifth starter before the game, there are only a couple of roster spots up for grabs, with Elias in the running for one of those spots.

Fresh off his WBC run with Cuba, Elias pitched well as he allowed two runs in 3 2/3 innings with five strikeouts. It wasn't a great outing, but one he can certainly build upon should he make this team out of camp. Opposing him was right-hander Sam Bachman, one of the Angels top pitching prospects. Bachman was flirting with danger throughout his two innings of work, allowing a hit by pitch to Edwin Rios before walking Patrik Wisdom to put a pair of runners on base in the first for the Cubs. Bachman got out of the inning with a double play, and the Cubs let a scoring chance slip away.

The same can be said for Elias in the first, as he also put a pair of runners on base, but most importantly, he got through the inning without any damage. Looking to break through in the second, Mike Tauchman led off the second with a double off the wall before a bloop double from Christoper Morel put runners on second and third with no outs.

Throw in a Zach McKinstry walk two batters later, and the Cubs had the bases loaded, only to come away empty-handed yet again. If the Cubs thought scoring off of Bauchman was tough, they had a different task in the third with Matt Moore entering the game. Coming off an incredible season in 2022, Moore was one of the more highly coveted relievers in the offseason and elected to sign with the Angels.

Unlike the first two innings, not only did the Cubs cash in, but they did so early and often as Wisdom started things off with a one-out walk. A few pitches later, Yan Gomes got every bit of an off-speed pitch as he cranked one out to left to give the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

A Tauchman walk kept the inning alive as he went on to steal both second and third before coming home on the Morel double.

The Cubs continued to keep the pressure on, with McKinstry adding to the lead with another RBI double while an error on a Nick Madrigal grounder capped off the five-run frame with the Cubs leading 5-0. Looking to battle back in the third, the Angels used some two-out magic to break through as three straight singles, including the RBI single from Taylor Jones, pushed a run across to make things 5-1.

One inning later, and the same story as the two-out single by Adrian Palencia kept the inning alive before he came around to score on the Jordyn Adams double. Chris Taylor took over for Elias after that hit, walking the first two batters he faced to load the bases before pitching out of trouble.

After extending their lead to 6-2 in the fifth off a wild pitch, Wisdom went deep for the second time this spring in the sixth as the Cubs grabbed that five-run lead again, 7-2.

That homer would be all the offense the Cubs would get, but typically that would be enough when you look at the pitching on this team.

That was not the case in this one, with Brendon Little allowing an RBI double in the sixth before the Osmy Gregorio triple pulled the Angels within 7-4 in the seventh. Los Angeles continued to rally in the eighth as another costly error by the Cubs allowed the fifth run to score to pull the Angels within two.

Following a scoreless top of the ninth, Cayne Ueckert came on to pitch the bottom half needing just three outs to finish things off. Instead, a lead-off double by Ben Gobbel set the table before he came around to score on the Anthony Mulrine double. One batter later saw Gregorio connect for his second triple of the game, and just like that, the Angles tied things up 7-7 with still nobody out.

Things went from bad to worse for Ueckert as he walked the next to hitters to load the bases and still had yet to record an out. Needing a miracle to get out of this jam, Ueckert was on the losing end, with Jeremiah Jackson cashing in for the walk-off single to give the Angels an 8-7 win. Morel led the way with three hits and an RBI, with Gomes adding two hits and two RBIs.

The Cubs will close out Cactus League play tomorrow when they face the Kansas City Royals.

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