Late game rally leads Cubs to fifth straight win
Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports

Late game rally leads Cubs to fifth straight win

by - Senior Writer -

Winning is fun, isn't it? Even though it is Spring Training and the wins don't count, it is always nice to win games, especially when that was an issue the past few years. The Cubs continued their winning ways on Sunday, as the offense led the way over the pitching.

Not only did the Cubs fall behind early, but they fell behind twice and trailed 5-3 heading into the ninth inning. That is when the Cubs offense came to life and scored three runs which was capped off by the Esteban Quiroz game-winning RBI single in the ninth to give the Cubs a 6-5 win.

Drew Smyly was on the bump for the Cubs, making his second start, and things didn't go too smoothly for him. Smyly lasted just two innings and allowed three runs over those frames as his spring ERA has risen to 11.25. This is a guy who should be a lock in the rotation come April, but there are some concerns about his performance thus far.

Take Smyly out of the equation; the rest of the pitching staff was excellent, including Manny Rodriguez, Michael Fulmer, Brandon Hughes, and Michael Rucker, who gave the Cubs four scoreless frames allowing just one hit and striking out three. Most of the damage against Smyly came in the first inning when former Cub Kris Bryant opened the scoring with his third homer of the spring to make things 1-0.

Coming off the season he had last year, Bryant has something to prove this spring and appears dialed in. Smyly was on the verge of getting out of the inning with just one run allowed until a series of singles by CJ Cron, Harold Castro, and Elias Diaz made things 2-0. Diaz was credited with the second RBI as the Cubs had to play from behind for the first time in nearly a week.

Looking to break through against Aaron Gomber in the second, Trey Mancini led things off with a single, but was still standing on first with two outs. That is when the scoring-hot David Bote came through with another RBI hit as his double brought the Cubs within 2-1. If this version of Bote was with the Cubs in years past, there is no way he would be a minor leaguer right now, as he has been on a tear this spring.

The Cubs kept the pressure on the Rockies in the third when Nelson Velazquez led the inning off with a walk and advanced to second on a Nick Madrigal single. Chicago was unable to do anything with that, as a double play killed that rally before the inning came to a close.

It was the Rockies striking again in their half of third when Ryan McMahon led things off with a solo homer to extend the lead to 3-1. Smyly was removed following that hitter as Manny Rodriguez was called on in relief. The back-and-forth affair continued into the fourth inning, with Mancini keeping his hot spring with a leadoff homer against Brent Suter to pull the Cubs within 3-2.

Chicago would add a pair of two-out walks from Bote and Matt Mervis later in the inning to put Suter on the ropes, but were unable to come away with the big hit. Through 10 games this spring, the Cubs have seen plenty of their former teammates, and another one entered the game to pitch, with Pierce Johnson taking over in the fifth.

There were some laughs about this pregame, but it was all business once the inning started as Madrigal led things off with a single. Following a Dansby Swanson walk, Ian Happ added an RBI single, and just like that, the game was tied 3-3. Across the next several innings, it was all about the pitching, as both teams struggled to find scoring chances.

The Cubs had an opportunity to take the lead in the seventh, with Luis Torrens and Darius Hill picking up singles, but they couldn't come through with the two-out hit they needed. Looking to turn heads before the major league roster is finalized, Ryan Jensen was on to pitch the eighth and was making his second appearance this spring.

When you look at his first appearance, there was a ton to like about it, but there were also some things to work on. Command was one of the issues as a leadoff single from Grant Lavigne and a Coco Montes walk put two runners on with no outs. Jensen walked two more hitters that inning, with Jameson Hannah picking up the go-ahead RBI walk. Julio Carreras added a two-out single later in the inning to plate another run as the Rockies took a 5-3 lead into the ninth.

With three outs to work with, Pete Crow-Armstrong started the party with a one-out single, only to be standing first with two outs. Down to their final out, Brennen Davis kept the line moving for the Hill single, making things 5-4. This was the perfect opportunity for the Cubs to manufacture runs without a homer as Andy Weber and Quiroz added RBI singles after Hill, with Quiroz giving the Cubs the lead for good 6-5.

Looking to close things out in the ninth, Didier Vargas was next on the mound and had to work through some trouble. He allowed a leadoff single to Hunter Goodman, with Warming Bernabel adding a two-out single to put the Rockies in business. Vargas didn't let that faze him as he buckled down to strike out the next hitter and helped the Cubs win their fifth straight game.

The Cubs tallied 13 hits in the game, with Madrigal, Mancini, and Hill getting two. Six other players recorded RBIs in the win as the Cubs are starting to click on all cylinders. The Cubs are back on the diamond Monday as they face off with the Mariners for the second time.

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