CHICAGO – It was the series before and the series after that was expected to bring all the drama at Wrigley Field. But it turns out the four-game stretch with the struggling Marlins has produced quite a few storylines.
There was Anthony Rizzo’s 200th homer and Pedro Strop’s blown save on Monday. There was Kris Bryant’s walk-off homer and controversy surrounding a racist gesture on Tuesday. Addison Russell was activated for the first time since the end of his suspension before Wednesday’s game before more drama unfolded that night.
For a second-straight night, however, the Cubs managed to smile at the end of the evening, even if it was a little more stressful than the night before. Plus the team got to have a new hero play the starring role at the finish.
Jason Heyward was the one to deliver a victory to the Cubs on Wednesday as his 11th inning homer helped the Cubs walk-off Miami 3-2 at Wrigley Field. It came after the team blew a lead in the ninth for the second time in three days, costing Kyle Hendricks a win after another strong performance.
Yet all the drama brought success, improving the Cubs record to 21-13 and stay atop the NL Central division. The back-to-back game-winner home runs are a first for the organization since the 1998 season. Orlando Merced hit a homer to help the Cubs beat the Brewers on September 12th of that year at Wrigley Field and Mark Grace followed with the winner the next day.
Fans will remember the latter game as the one which Sammy Sosa passed Roger Maris on the all-time season home run list with his 61st and 62nd homers of 1998.
For now, the focus is on Heyward, who came through with his sixth-career walk-off RBI and the second homer to end a game in his career. It was his only hit of the night, but it came at the right time as he took Jose Quijada deep to left field , dropping the ball into the basket for the game-winner.
It’s just another big moment for Heyward in easily his best stretch of hitting so far as a member of the Cubs, as his average sits at .286 with six homers and 18 RBI. The long ball total is just two short of his entire output for the 2018 season, and he’s well on his way to topping his Cubs high of 11 set in 2017.
While Heyward’s good story got another chapter, it initially appeared that would belong to Kyle Hendricks. After his 81-pitch gem last Friday in a win over the Cardinals, the pitcher followed it up with an eight-inning performance where he allowed just one run and struck out seven without a walk over 96 pitches.
Joe Maddon elected to replace him in the ninth with Steve Cishek, who was not on target in his closing effort that comes after Pedro Strop was placed on the 10-day IL. He allowed two singles, then advanced them on a wild pitch with one out. A fielder’s choice by Miguel Rojas to Addison Russell, who made his first start since coming of suspension, allowing the tying run to score.
Russell was the big news of the day as he was greeting by fans with a mixed reception as he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a walk. Yet it was Heyward that managed to be the story of the day, adding another memorable moment to a drama-filled series.