Cubs win thriller with Baez's walk-off homer in 13th inning
|Sunday, May 8, 2016, 7:46 PM- -|
In a game that should be coined the Mother’s Day Marathon, the Chicago Cubs (24-6) beat the Washington Nationals (19-12) 4-3 on a walk-off home run by infielder Javier Baez in the bottom of the 13th inning. The homer was the lone hit of the afternoon for Baez, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth. A riveting game indeed, the victory allowed the Cubs to match their best start to the season since 1907, when they also started the year 24-6.
Looking for a highly impressive four-game sweep of the NL East-leading Nationals, the Cubs’ chances looked promising with ace Jake Arietta on the mound. Entering the game 6-0 in his six starts, Arietta garnered a no-decision for his outing on Sunday, in which he gave up three runs (two of them earned) in five innings on the hill.
The Nationals’ first run of the afternoon came in the top of the third when right fielder Bryce Harper scored on a double hit by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Harper was walked before Zimmerman’s at-bat, which was a theme of the game. Harper tied the MLB record for most walks in a game with six, and most were intentional. In a bit of gamesmanship on behalf of Cubs manager Joe Maddon, Harper was not given a chance to swing the bat during the second half of the ballgame, being intentionally walked so as to not give the slugger a chance at dooming the Cubs.
The fourth inning was highlighted by poor defense. In the top half of the inning, Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was able to score from third on a one-out groundout, but a wild pitch by Arietta had allowed him to advance to third before that. The bottom of the fourth saw the Cubs score their first run due to a wild pitch by Nationals starter Tanner Roark that enabled Chicago second baseman, Ben Zobrist, to cross home plate. The wild pitch only added insult to injury, though, as Zobrist, who led off the inning, only reached base to begin with because of a fielding error committed by Nats second baseman, Daniel Murphy.
Murphy redeemed himself in the top of the fifth when he crushed a double to left field to start the inning. After a sacrifice fly had advanced Murphy to third, Ramos brought him home with a single. After a non-eventful bottom half of the fifth, reliever Trevor Cahill replaced Arietta on the mound and pitched very well. Throwing three innings of one-hit ball, Cahill made the most impact at the plate.
In another interesting decision by Maddon, the wily skipper let Cahill bat in the bottom of the seventh, with the Cubs trailing 3-1. Surprisingly, the questionable decision paid off, as Cahill reached first to start off the bottom half of the inning by way of an infield single that rocketed directly back at Nationals pitcher Oliver Perez. Perez was chased from the game soon after, and, with runners on second and third, Kris Bryant brought two runs home to knot up at the game at three runs apiece via a clutch single off of Yusmeiro Petit.
Following Bryant’s seventh inning single, the war of attrition began. The Nationals had more opportunities than the Cubs to win the game during extra innings, with Chicago escaping from two bases loaded jams. While the Cubs were far less successful at putting runners in scoring position during the latter stage of the game, Baez came up big when it mattered the most by blasting a Blake Treinen pitch over the wall in left-center in the 13th. Only his second home run of the season, Baez’ moonshot put an emphatic end to the Mother’s Day Marathon at Wrigley Field.
While Arietta was a little off of his game for the first time this season, Roark was solid, giving up only one run and four hits while striking out seven in six innings pitched. Unfortunately for him, he garnered a no-decision for his efforts, and, unfortunately for the Nationals, they suffered a devastating end to what marked a dreadful series against the Cubs. With a game time of just under five hours, the Cubs won the marathon, but they will take the field again tomorrow night when they battle the San Diego Padres (13-18) at home.