One night after beating Clayton Kershaw, the Cubs outlasted Zack Greinke to beat the National League West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 on Chris Denorfia’s game-winner in the bottom of the 10th on Tuesday.
“I think you saw the last couple of days just what we’re capable of,” said Denorfia, who, with one out and the bases loaded in the 10th, drove a fly out of a five-man infield and over the head of center fielder Joc Pederson, who raced to make the catch but could find no Cub to double off a base.
Just like that the Cubs had their major-league leading ninth walk-off victory, major-league-leading eighth extra-inning victory and moved to nine games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2008 season with the best record in the National League.
“It’s awesome,” outfielder Dexter Fowler said.
Yeah? OK. But nothing in the ballpark on this night topped the third-inning feat pulled off by a young dad feeding a baby when Jason Hammel’s foul ball headed his way.
As the popup drifted past the rolled-up tarp off first base, the man, with his baby holding a bottle hanging from his left arm, reached out with his right hand to catch the ball inches in front of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez’s glove.
“That was outstanding,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “You worry about the baby, of course, but he looked like he had it under control. Looked like he did it before almost. Great play.”
“He was holding a baby and everything,” said Hammel, who apparently didn’t notice the baby was sucking on a bottle during the play. “He was feeding it? That’s even more amazing. That’s an eye-opener. That was impressive. Best play of the night.”
Then the guy who outlasted his Cy Young opponent with scoreless pitching on this night remembered the game again, adding: “Other than Addison [Russell’s] stab at second on that line drive by Joc [in the fourth].”
Hammel, by the way was out, after the Dodgers challenged to get the fan-interference call.
Not that anybody in the Cubs’ clubhouse cared on a night like this, after a fourth straight win.
“To be on a winning team and part of this, it feels pretty good,” Denorfia said.
And beating Cy Young pitchers on back-to-back nights to start a seven-game stretch against first-place teams?
“That’s got to give you some kind of confidence that you can do it against the best. I would hope so,” Maddon said. “And, again, you have to pitch better than good pitching. We did it two nights in a row. For me it’s all about pitching and defense these last two nights.”
Hammel said it was about character. Denorfia said it’s about a team coming together. Fowler – who limped up to the plate on a sprained ankle to draw a walk during the winning rally – said it’s about a “close-knit team” staying close.
But mostly it’s about playing good baseball more often than bad baseball, having more talent on the team than in recent years, and paying attention throughout the game.
“The word grinding is used a lot in major league baseball,” Maddon said. “But we just had to convince a lot of our guys that that’s the way to do this.
“It doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to take things.
“We were engaged in every pitch. I thought we were in present tense all night long, and I loved it.”