MILWAUKEE – It took 13 innings and nearly five hours for the Cubs this week to gain their first lead in a game since Saturday – though many could be forgiven for sleeping through that moment since Wednesday night’s eventual 2-1 victory lasted until Thursday morning.
It took 14 pitchers, 105 batters, 457 total pitches and, eventually, a pitcher drawing a game-winning walk to finish the longest, and one of the most bizarre, games for the Cubs this season.
A few questions in the aftermath:
Is there any way to give Travis Wood credit for the walkoff after he drew the two-out, bases-loaded walk to win it in the top of the 13th? “He’s always said he wants to hit a walkoff homer,” teammate Kris Bryant said. “I guess that was kind of close to it.”
No. “It’s not technically a walkoff,” Wood said, “but I was pretty jacked up for that. I took a pretty good swing on the first pitch, and then I didn’t get another one to hit. But it was enough to win the game.”
Where did the Cubs’ 6-runs-a-game offense go those first two games in Milwaukee? “We kind of hit a little lull, kind of dragging,” said Wood of a lineup that didn’t score before the ninth in three straight games through Wednesday (batting .163 in that stretch). “Just the last couple days. … But I think this’ll be what it takes [to reverse that].”
Did it really take 5 hours to play a 2-1 game? After Maddon made the 11th and 12th pitching changes of the game to get the final two outs in the bottom of the 13th, Ben Zobrist’s throw for the final out settled into first baseman Javy Baez’s glove at 12:10 a.m. – exactly 5 hours after the first pitch.
What was Addison Russell doing bunting in the second inning with runners at second and third, one out and David Ross and the pitcher behind him? Did he miss a sign or go rogue before the popped-up bunt? “[Pitcher Jimmy] Nelson’s really tough on righties, and if we could just take a run right there,” Maddon said, “I would have taken a run, because Addison’s also very good at that play. So don’t blame Addison. Blame me that it didn’t work.”
How many positions did Bryant actually play in that wild 12th inning? It seemed like – and he believed – it was three. But technically, he was still the left fielder rotating on defensive shifts when he switched gloves to man third base as a fifth infielder, then swap gloves with Baez to play first, before getting back his original glove to return to left. Either way, “I’ll remember this game for a very long time,” Bryant said.
Why bring in a fifth infielder with the bases loaded (nobody out) in that 12th with a fly ball pitcher on the mound? “There was no really good ground ball matchup there,” Maddon said. “But part of that is just to have the hitter see the defense in his face also, and that can send a different vibe to him.” Three popups later, Wood was out of the inning and ready for his victory walk.
What was it like in the dugout when Wood got out of that jam? “It was like New Year’s Eve,” Maddon said.