In an absolute stunner, the Arizona Diamondbacks scored five runs in the ninth to top the Chicago Cubs 7-5.
Where in the world did that come from? Never before has a team seemingly quit on itself one night, and reappeared like magic the following day.
Maybe it was the horrific throwback jerseys. Something about playing in collared jerseys looks completely ostentatious and is better served as a nice memory of the Christy Mathewson’s and Addie Joss’s of yester year.
With that being said, it was a tremendous day at Wrigley Field for baseball. Celebrating it’s 100th year anniversary, the game ended quite fittingly for the Cubs, surrendering five runs in the ninth inning to lose a game they had in the palm of their hand. If that is not the antithesis of baseball on the north side of Chicago for the past 100+ years, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example.
Leading 1-0 heading to the bottom of the fifth, things began to unravel in the same spot they did just the night before. Everything from botched squeeze bunts, to errors from the unflappable Paul Goldschmidt; it’s a miracle the D-Backs managed to only yield three runs.
Even though Cody Ross would answer with his first hit of the season to pull his average up to an astonishing .048, any momentum was immediately erased again in the bottom half of the sixth after Justin Ruggiano homered for the second consecutive game. That spelled the end of the afternoon for Wade Miley, seemingly destined for a loss after five innings of four hit, three earned runs baseball.
The one club in baseball whose bullpen has been decimated by inefficiencies worse than the Diamondbacks, would be the Chicago Cubs. Resorting to Russian roulette for the closer’s job, Pedro Strop was handed the task on Wednesday afternoon.
Walks to Chris Owings and Eric Chavez sandwiched around Starlin Castro booting a ball at short, came back to haunt. Strop dangled on the tightrope by striking out Gerardo Parra and Paul Goldschmidt, but also allowed a two-run single from Martin Prado. Not wishing to press his luck with Strop any longer, manager Rick Renteria came out and made a pitching change.
On the surface, the move of bringing in James Russell makes a whole lot of sense. The left-hander with the long, flowing locks is downright impossible to hit for left-handed batters. Sticking with Miguel Montero, Kirk Gibson could only hope he could keep the game alive for his club. With the count full, Montero laced an inside fastball for a humpback line drive to right field that appeared would be caught by Ruggiano on the fly. Awkwardly, Ruggiano pulled up and allowed the ball to drop in front, tying the ball game.
Things were about to get even more awkward for Ruggiano as the Diamondbacks caught their first significant break all year. With another new pitcher in the contest, Aaron Hill lofted a ball down the right field line, which seemed to hang in the air for a decade. Sprinting over towards the D-Backs bullpen in foul territory was Ruggiano, who has the ball glance off him in fair territory, then has his legs go out under him atop a bullpen mound. Hill was credited with a two-RBI triple, but it was easy to see it was the deathblow the D-Backs so desperately needed.
Picking up the win for his impressive two innings of work out of the pen was Trevor Cahill. Since being demoted, Cahill has been extremely effective—go figure.
Picking up the save for what seems like the first time in forever was Addison Reed. Moving swiftly through the Cubs in the ninth, Reed allowed no possibility for comeback, mowing through with a 1-2-3 inning.
Back at it on Thursday afternoon with an 11:20 a.m. start once again, the Diamondbacks look to escape Chicago with a split. They’ll (thankfully) switch back to their normal attire for the afternoon contest as Mike Bolsinger opposes Edwin Jackson of the Cubs.
Bleak may be the word to describe the Diamondbacks early on in April, but a win like Wednesday afternoons can ignite a club to greater heights.