Fly the W: Wisdom delivers as Cubs sweep Rockies
Matt Marton - USA Today Sports

Fly the W: Wisdom delivers as Cubs sweep Rockies

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - After going 3-10 over a 13-game stretch and seeing their once comfortable lead in the Wild Card evaporate, the Chicago Cubs (82-74) knew they needed to show up for their final homestand if they wanted to keep their playoff hopes alive. Ideally, they would have loved to 5-1, but even 4-2 at worst would keep the pressure on everyone else.

Dropping two of three to the Pirates to start the week wasn't an ideal situation, but the Cubs turned it on against the Colorado Rockies (56-99) this weekend as they had a chance to sweep them and finish with a winning homestand to close out the home portion of their schedule. It didn't come easy, especially with Julian Merryweather struggling with his command at the worst times. However, the Cubs did what they needed to do as a Patrick Wisdom homer was the difference in the Cubs 4-3 win as they picked up the sweep they needed to end the home slate of games in 2023.

After having his start pushed back one day, Jordan Wicks took the ball for what could be his final start of the season, but for sure, his last start at home. Ever since his callup in August, Wicks has been nothing short of amazing as he is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA. Going back to his minor league season, Wicks is 11-1 with a 3.34 ERA, which is impressive. Wicks wasn't as sharp as he wanted to be at times, allowing a pair of homers, but that was it as he gave the Cubs six innings of three-strikeout baseball to secure another win.

Facing the Cubs for the second time in a week was Ty Blach, who pitched very well against them last time out. Blach was on the ropes early in the game, but the Cubs were unable to capitalize as he managed to give the Rockies a series victory last time out. The same can be said about this start, as Blach was once again on the ropes but managed to limit the damage as he allowed just one run through five innings. That was until the sixth when the Cubs pushed across three runs, including two on the Wisdom homer, which was the difference in the Cubs win.

When the Cubs are at their best, they tend to score first, which they have done a lot during this homestand. Sunday was no different as the Cubs opened the scoring in the second inning with Yan Gomes coming through with another RBI double to make things 1-0. That came on the heels of a scoreless first inning as Wicks was given another lead to run with.

With the lead, Wicks ran into a bit of third-inning trouble, allowing a leadoff double to Austyn Wims before returning the next two hitters to keep things 1-0. That was until Brendan Rodgers connected for the first of two Rockies homers on the afternoon as the Rockies took the 2-1 lead. Those were the last of the runs for the next several innings as Wicks settled in to contain the Rockies offense the next two innings and continued to give the Cubs impressive starts when called upon.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, their offense continued to have chances against Blach, but for whatever reason, their lack of clutch hitting has been exposed again during this homestand. Singles from Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki in the third gave the Cubs a chance to tie things up, only to come away empty. Chicago then put the leadoff runner in both the fourth and fifth innings, but once again, the offense stalled as the Rockies held their 2-1 lead entering the sixth.

In the sixth, both offenses started to come to life, as most of the runs were scored in that inning. A one-out homer from Nolan Jones extended the Rockies lead to 3-1 and had the Cubs on the verge of losing a crucial game. Wicks didn't let that homer phase him, as he finished that inning without any further damage and gave his team six strong innings again.

Needing offense in a hurry, the middle of the Cubs lineup began to deliver, with Suzuki leading things off with a double before advancing to third on the Dansby Swanson single. A few pitches later, Gomes delivered his second RBI of the day as his sacrifice fly pulled the Cubs within 3-2. One batter later saw Wisdom come through with the big blow as his two-run shot put the Cubs in front for good 4-3, as he now has 22 homers this season.

Following a pitching change that saw Gavin Holloway enter the game, Mike Tauchman was called on to pinch hit for Alexander Canario and promptly delivered a double to keep the line moving, but that was it as Holloway retired the next three to end the threat. With Daniel Palencia and Jose Cuas giving the Cubs two easy innings in the seventh and eighth, the Cubs were just one inning away from securing a massive three-game sweep.

Ideally, they would've loved to add on an insurance run late, but they were unable to, as David Ross went to Julian Merryweather in the ninth to secure the save. Merryweather has been one of the Cubs best relievers all season, but his last two appearances have been shaky as the command wasn't there. Sunday was no different for the hard-throwing right-hander as he continued to struggle to find the strike zone and walked Jones and Elias Diaz to start the inning as the Rockies had the winning run at first.

Like Saturday that saw Merryweather recover, a pair of flyouts to Pete Crow-Armstrong relaxed Merryweather and him within one out of securing the win. Merryweather would deliver as he struck out Ryan McMahon to end the game and capped off the Cubs sweep of the Rockies in their final home game of 2023.

The win keeps the Cubs in sole possession of the third Wild Card as they continue to lead the Marlins by one game. It was also the Cubs 82nd win of the season, which guarantees them a winning record this season, which is an accomplishment in itself. The offense was more challenging than it was earlier in the week, as the Cubs were held to just four runs on seven hits. Suzuki continued to lead the way with two hits to raise his average to .283. Happ, Swanson, Gomes, Wisdom, and Tauchman added the rest of the hits for Chicago.

Chicago will enjoy their final off day tomorrow before closing out the season with six on the road, starting with Atlanta on Tuesday and ending with Milwaukee. If the Cubs want to reach the playoffs, they will have to earn it, as the final six games will be far from easy.

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