The 1,500 or so hardy Cubs fans who stayed and braved the rain, the 25-degree wind chill and the 24 mph winds at Wrigley Field were treated to one of the wildest games in recent memory.
With numb and wet hands, frozen toes and every reason to give in, the Cubs rallied to claim an improbable 14-10 victory against the Braves.
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The Cubs scored nine runs — all with two outs — during a loony eighth inning in which they had only three hits. The Braves did their part with five walks, two hit-by-pitches, a wild pitch and an error.
“It’s one of the craziest wins I’ve ever been a part of,” third baseman Kris Bryant said. “Windy, wet, cold, sideways rain — we were able to overcome that. It says a lot about us and who we are.”
The Cubs overcame an eight-run deficit in a victory for the first time since July 7, 2011, in Washington. The nine-run inning was their best since July 30, 2012, against the Pirates, and it was the most runs scored in an inning with three hits or fewer since May 19, 1954, against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field.
Javy Baez provided the key hit. Trailing 10-7 with the bases loaded, Baez worked a full count against reliever Jose Ramirez, then belted a double into the left-center-field gap to clear the bases and tie the score.
“I was just trying to hit the ball on the barrel,” Baez said. “He knew I was seeing the ball good, and he had to throw a fastball there on a 3-2 count. So I was ready for it, and I didn’t try to do too much to it.”
The win, while ugly, might help alleviate some early-season doubts in Wrigleyville. For now, the Cubs (7-7) can move past Jose Quintana lasting only 2„ innings after Yu Darvish’s unraveling Friday.
“It can be impactful, but you have to wait until tomorrow or the next day to find that out,” manager Joe Maddon said. “If we were playing on the weekends in the Pac-12, it can have that kind of influence on the whole weekend. I do know the guys will go home feeling better about themselves, but I don’t get carried away yet about things like this.”
Frustration had taken hold in the stands and on social media as the Cubs fell behind 10-2 in the fourth inning. Most fans flocked to the exits long before the comeback began.
Braves starter Sean Newcomb seemed less bothered by the conditions and allowed three runs (two earned) in 5„ innings. Meanwhile, the Braves scored three runs in the second and five in the third to seemingly seal the Cubs’ fate.
The Braves’ bullpen can be credited for doing much of the work for the Cubs, allowing 10 earned runs with six walks and two hit batters. The Cubs, in large part, sat back and watched as they regained the lead.
But the Cubs’ bullpen still had to do its job. Eddie Butler allowed three runs (two earned) in 3‰ innings. Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson and Brandon Morrow each pitched a scoreless inning.
“There was a point where [Efren] Navarro was almost in to pitch,” Maddon said of their newly promoted left fielder/first baseman. “And suddenly your closer is in for the ninth inning for the win. Really an interesting game.”
It would have been easy, as Maddon said, “to pack that game in,” but the Cubs didn’t leave their die-hard fans out in the cold.