When Jason Heyward was hit by a pitch to start the eighth inning in front of a Wrigley Field crowd dwindled dramatically by cold winds, a constant rain and a sizable scoreboard deficit, it seemed so innocent. At least at the time.
By the time the inning ended, the Cubs had scored nine runs on a collection of three hits, five walks, a wild pitch, an error and two hit batsmen, and suddenly, everything had changed.
Trailing once by eight runs and down five entering the eighth, the Cubs sent 13 hitters to the plate to cap an amazing 14-10 win over the Braves on Saturday, during which they scored 12 unanswered runs. The Cubs scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk to Kyle Schwarber from reliever Sam Freeman after Javier Baez tied it with a clutch three-run double off Jose Ramirez.
All nine runs in the inning were scored with two outs.
“We don’t really ever give up — never,” said Baez, who finished 1-for-5 with four RBIs. “We didn’t give up. … They were comfortable with the leads, and we scored nine runs in one inning. We can change the game with one swing, and everybody [has] power in the lineup and on the bench.
“We just have to play the game to 27 outs, and when it’s over, it’s over.”
Baez’s clutch hit came after he had popped out, struck out, reached on an error and grounded out, although the groundout drove in a run.
“I didn’t try to do too much to it,” Baez said. “Obviously, a ball in the air wasn’t going anywhere with the wind today, so I was just being smart and hitting the ball good.”
Willson Contreras drove in a run in the eighth inning with a bases-loaded infield single before Ben Zobristdrew a walk to get the Cubs to within three runs. Baez then tied the score with his double into the gap in left-center before the Cubs piled on four more runs, two of which came on bases-loaded walks and two more coming on a wild pitch.
“It was one of the craziest wins I have been a part of,” Kris Bryant said. “It was just a crazy turn of events. Windy, wet, cold, sideways rain, and we were able to overcome that. It says a lot about us and who we are. We don’t let the scoreboard dictate how we’re going to go out there and play, and that [game] was a prime example of that.”
The late rally saved the Cubs, who trailed, 10-2, going into their half of the sixth inning and appeared on the verge of falling to 1-4 at home this season. Starter Jose Quintana was cold from the beginning, when he served up a leadoff homer to Ozzie Albies — who drove in a run in each of his first four at-bats, while falling a triple shy of the cycle.
Quintana’s day ended after walking Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb — his fourth free pass of the day. But the Cubs’ eighth-inning rally took Quintana off the hook, and the bullpen — sparked by Eddie Butler, who gave the Cubs 3 2/3 innings before Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson and Brandon Morrow each recorded a scoreless inning.
The Braves tallied at least one run in each of the first four innings, including five in the third, and appeared in control even after the Cubs scored a pair of runs in the seventh inning to get to within five runs.
But then came the eighth, when the Cubs relentlessly grinded out at-bats. Afterward, manager Joe Maddon characterized the victory as “fortunate.”
“[It would have been] easy to pack that game in,” Maddon said. “[The win] obviously can be impactful, but you have to wait until tomorrow or the next day to find that out. I do know the guys are definitely going to go home feeling better about themselves. But I don’t get carried away yet by things like this — I really don’t.”
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