When Albert Almora Jr. scored the winning run Thursday on a throwing error in the 13th inning, the Cubs had their 10th come-from-behind victory already this season.
At this rate, they’ll be breaking records by July. And breaking down from exhaustion by August.
“It’s not ideal,” said catcher Miguel Montero, whose homer in the eighth inning into the basket in center field tied the game the Cubs eventually won 5-4 over the Phillies.
“It’s a good feeling to know we can [come back], but we have to maybe step it up a little bit more and maybe get the lead early in the game and go from there, so we take a little bit of stress off our pitchers.”
They might want to start Friday, when the Yankees, who boast one of the best bullpens in baseball, open a three-game series at Wrigley.
The back end of the Yanks’ bullpen includes Dellin Betances (0.93 ERA), Tyler Clippard (1.54) and onetime Cub Aroldis Chapman (0.87). Another onetime Cub, Adam Warren, has an ERA of 0.63 in a team-leading 14„ relief innings.
“You don’t want to try to beat that bullpen,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
They’ve had little choice but to try to beat bullpens in most of their games after trailing in all but six of their first 28.
When starter John Lackey struck out Maikel Franco to end the first inning, stranding Odubel Herrera at second base, it was only the fourth time in the last 16 games a Cub had pitched a scoreless first inning.
“Maybe the baseball gods are on our side, but we would prefer not to have to come back,” said Kris Bryant, whose fourth hit of the game, in the ninth, missed becoming the game-winner because Ben Zobrist was picked off second base a moment earlier.
“You’d like to look at last year, when we . . . scored a ton of runs, and our pitchers shut everybody down. So the games were not as stressful. But it’s not going to be like that. That’s kind of fairy-tale land there.”
The Cubs’ 25-6 start to their 103-win season last year is not only an aberration; it’s also a distant, faded memory more than a month into this year’s title-defense reality.
Even teams such as the Phillies and Brewers have looked improved in early games against the Cubs. Their next two opponents — the Yanks and Rockies — lead their divisions.
And the Cubs still are waiting for their starting pitching and overall fielding to reach track-record levels.
“It’d be nice not to have to battle,” Bryant said, “but it builds character and gives us that confidence, just knowing that anytime we’re in that situation, it can happen.”
Notes: Manager Joe Maddon said he was out of relievers he was willing to use by the time the game ended. He had checked in with Saturday’s scheduled starter, Brett Anderson, for possible use.
◆ Aroldis Chapman is expected to receive his World Series ring in a pregame ceremony Friday. Adam Warren, who was traded back to the Yankees in the July 25 deal for Chapman, is expected to receive his privately this weekend.
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