Coming off a 2-5 road trip in Atlanta and Cincinnati and a litany of injuries heading into Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Dodgers, things did not appear to be heading in the right direction for the Cubs.
After the team’s bad stretch entering May, the schedule didn’t let up as the World Series champion Dodgers came to Wrigley Field.
One of the things the Cubs have struggled with this season has been good starting pitching, and they saw possibly the best trio they’d see all season in Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer and Walker Buehler.
But after squandering opportunities to win ballgames in similar situations throughout April, the Cubs opened the month of May with some fight against one of the National League’s premier teams. They completed a sweep with Wednesday’s 5-4, 11-inning win and maybe gained some much needed confidence in the process.
“I think [the sweep] is a huge confidence boost,” said Matt Duffy who was 3-for-4 and scored the game-winning run in the 11th inning. “I think it kind of reaffirms what we believe in the clubhouse that we’re a high-quality team and we’re capable of doing things like we did against them.”
It made sense after Tuesday’s comeback victory over the Dodgers in extras, both teams would be in for another battle in the series finale. It started as a pitcher’s duel with Walker Buehler and Adbert Alzolay going back and forth. Alzolay struck out a career-high-tying seven over five innings in the game.
As the game continued late, both sides traded punches back and forth in the fifth, eighth, 10th and 11th innings as the Dodgers and Cubs battled to take the game. Things looked bleak in the 11th inning as the Dodgers went up 5-4, scoring on a fielder’s choice as first baseman Anthony Rizzo missed touching the bag as he attempted to turn the 3-6 double play.
Rizzo, who entered the game in the 10th inning, would get his redemption in the bottom of the inning. After Duffy singled to tie the game at 5, Rizzo followed with an RBI-single of his own through the shifted infield to send the Cubs to their second sweep of the season.
“It’s just nice to be in that situation,” Rizzo said about his walk-off single. “Duffy tying the game up and then Tony Wolters with a really good at-bat laying off good sliders. To be up in that situation and obviously hit it whether or not standing or doubt this time and it feels good going into the off-day.”
The Cubs sweep of the Dodgers comes at the perfect time as the team’s season has started to feel shaky as the losses have begun to pile up and taking three games from who many consider the best team in baseball is a big deal.
The Cubs looked ready for Los Angeles’ best shot during the three-game set and it showed. Even when it looked like they were preparing to give a game away, somebody came through in a big moment.
“Just reiterate what I said yesterday about the willingness to continue to fight, to continue to have the same at-bats and continue to try to make pitches,” manager David Ross said. “To not let things get out of control and get away from us. [The Dodgers] came up with some big hits in big spots and then we came up with big hits and big spots and it’s just back and forth.
“I don’t think everything’s as pretty as we want it, but we’re continue to battle against a really good team and come away with a big win there before the off-day.”