Rapid Reaction: Cubs 6, Rockies 5 (F/12)
August, 6, 2014
By Brent W. New
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Special to ESPNChicago.com
DENVER -– Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said it didn’t matter if Javier Baez went 0-for-20 or 0-for-30 to start off his big league career.
He knows that’s probably not the kind of thing the good and honest people of Chicago probably want to hear. But that’s just his way of telling the Cubs’ new second baseman to take a deep breath and keep his head up no matter what comes his way in these next few weeks.
“Yeah, he’s staying here [in the big leagues],” Rizzo said in support of Baez, who was called up from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday.
And on Day 1 of his MLB career, the prized prospect started 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. That’s before he launched the winning home run into Coors Field’s bullpens in the 12th inning.
So … there’s that.
Final: Cubs 6, Rockies 5.
How it happened: Baez went hitless and his teammates didn’t do much of anything else, totaling just six hits before the 21-year-old infielder crushed the first pitch he saw from Rockies reliever Boone Logan in the 12th.
The Cubs’ offense struggled for most of the game before that, but Colorado’s relievers came to the rescue and showed their season-long form of subpar play in the final five innings to make things interesting. In the seventh inning, the Rockies walked two runs to the plate -- en route to giving free passes to six batters in all -- and Chicago added three more runs on Wellington Castillo's sixth-inning home run to take the 4-3 lead.
From there, Colorado’s Nolan Arenado homered off Wesley Wright in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game 4-4. And in extras, Ryan Sweeney was thought to have finally put this game to rest in the 11th, when he looped a go-ahead RBI single. But with two outs and two strikes, Charlie Culberson hit a game-tying RBI single off Chicago reliever Hector Rondon to send the game into the 12th.
Cue Baez: The reason many visiting Cubs fans stayed in their seats for the nearly 4 1/2 hours was to see this guy. And after he struggled in the first 11 innings of his big league career, fans finally witnessed the Baez they had been hoping to see.
Hits: Other than Baez, there was Travis Wood (7-10, 5.08 ERA), and he was OK-to-pretty good Tuesday night -- especially if you put this high-altitude performance up against Wood’s 2014 season as a whole. Wood scattered seven hits over six innings and allowed three runs.
Misses: The Cubs can hit home runs. They have 103 of them as a team, which is 11th majors, and Rizzo has 25, which is good for sixth. Their .240 batting average, however, is a different, bleaker story at 27th.
What you don’t want to do: When a team walks another team six times in an inning -- like the Rockies did to the Cubs in the seventh -- and the latter team can’t score more than three runs in that frame, that’s no good.
There are times when the Cubs need to blow games open, and Tuesday’s was one of them.
Stat of the game: 50 percent. Baez had trouble letting go of pitches out of the zone in his first couple of months in Triple-A Iowa this past year, earning a 33.7 percent strikeout rate. And that impatience seemed to climb back into the second baseman’s game on Tuesday when Baez struck out three times in six at-bats.
Up next: Baez better start hitting, or else. No, just kidding. The Cubs will move along in the second game of three in the “NL’s Worst Series” on Wednesday, and Baez probably will still be around for the rest of it. Jake Arrieta (6-2, 2.11), who allowed just three hits over seven innings in a win against Colorado last Thursday, will face Jordan Lyles (5-1, 3.52), who is pitching for the first time since June 4. Game time is 7:40 p.m. CT.