By Richard Kagan
The Chicago Cubs still have the flair for the dramatic.
In this case, Jason Heyward came to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, with the bases loaded. The Cubs were trailing Philadelphia 5-3 in a game where manager Joe Maddon made some questionable pitching moves.
That was erased with one swing of the bat off a pitch by Adam Morgan. Morgan threw Heyward a 97 mph fastball that Heyward struck and the ball went deep into the bleachers in right-center field, setting off a delirious reaction of the remaining fans at Wrigley Field.
Heywood was mobbed as he reached home plate and the Cubs had a great feel good victory that almost got away from them. Jose Quintana was sailing along in the 6th inning and had one out to go but Maddon took him out after 91 pitches and ten strikeouts to two walks. There were two men on base and the reliever Steve Chisuk promptly gave up a three run bomb to dead center on his first pitch. Not a good sign.
Now the game was tied at 3-all. The bull pen faltered again when Dylan Cozens hit a two run home run, his first of the season off of closer Brandon Morrow to give Philadelphia a 5-3 lead heading to the bottom of the 9th inning.
The Cubs loaded the bases and Adam Morgan was brought in to get the final out. Heyward has been hitting better since he came off the DL a month ago. But he hadn’t had an extra base hit versus a lefty until last night. On a 2-2 count, Heyward swung and sent the ball deep into the nlght.
The part of the 40,000+ crowd that stayed saw an ending that hadn’t happened since 1968 when Ron Santo hit a grand slam with the Cubs trailing to win a ballgame.
From the jaws of defeat to the joy of victory. You’d think it was the intro of the famed Wide World of Sports show on ABC. No, this was just the Cubs in a major gut check and they passed with flying colors.
It’s a long season, but this game has to be a highlight. The people who left will say they were there to see it. Those who were there, will probably remember this ending forever.
I’ll say this, the Phillies are not your weak sister. They are a determined bunch ready to make a mark in the National League East. The Cubs are in the process of finding themselves.
This game had to help.