Cubs Classics: Walk-off Homer Week
The MLB season may be delayed indefinitely, but there’s still plenty of baseball action to consume from the 144-year history of the Chicago Cubs.
Marquee Sports Network is airing a bunch of Cubs Classics from recent seasons, with a new theme each week. Next up: Walk-off Homer Week.
Beginning Monday, April 6, we’ll air five straight days of epic Cubs walk-off homers in primetime, with each game starting at 7 p.m. starts. Here’s the list:
Monday, April 6: Brian McRae plays the hero (Sept. 24, 1995)
Check out some of the names in this Cubs starting lineup:
Brian McRae – CF
Howard Johnson – 3B
Mark Grace – 1B
Sammy Sosa – RF
Luis Gonzalez – LF
Shawon Dunston – SS
Scott Servais – C
Jose Hernandez – 2B
Jaime Navarro – P
Talk about a blast from the past. Howard Johnson? Totally forgot about his lone season with the Cubs at the tail end of his career.
In this game, the Pirates jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, before the Cubs came storming back with 3 unanswered runs. That included a game-tying rally in the bottom of the 9th before McRae’s heroics in the 10th.
McRae was in his first season with the Cubs and had a solid year overall in 1995, finishing with 92 runs scored and a .348 on-base percentage as the leadoff hitter.
Tuesday, April 7: Miguel Montero walks off the Brewers (Aug. 12, 2015)
Montero came up with a couple massive hits in the 2016 playoff run, but he also played a role in the Cubs even getting to that point as a franchise.
As the 2015 Cubs were ascending into contenders, Montero gave them a much-needed victory over the Brewers at Wrigley Field in mid-August of that season. Milwaukee was still a ways away from emerging as a contender in its own right (the Brewers were 48-67 at this point the season).
Unlike the game before, this contest featured the Cubs blowing a lead in the 9th inning before they rallied to walk it off in the 10th on Montero’s blast. Addison Russell’s error led to Hector Rondon’s blown save in the 9th, but Tommy Hunter (remember him?) picked up the victory after Montero’s solo shot to lead off the 10th.
Wednesday, April 8: Kris Bryant continues to make his case for NL ROY (Aug. 24, 2015)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Cubs played an exciting game against the Indians that featured late heroics to send the Cubs home happy.
However, this didn’t come in the 2016 playoffs, but rather the year before in the regular season.
As Bryant marched to his National League Rookie of the Year award, he smashed his 20th homer of the season off in the bottom of the 9th to lift the Cubs to a 2-1 victory.
That gave the Cubs a 72-51 record on the season in a game that was rescheduled after a June 15 rainout. Jon Lester had a fantastic outing to keep the Indians’ bats at bay, allowing only a run in 8.2 innings.
Thursday, April 9: Javy Baez sends the Mother’s Day crowd home happy (May 8, 2016)
The final two games of Walk-off Week come courtesy of the Washington Nationals as the victim in both contests.
In the first one, “El Mago” added an early chapter to his legend by sending a sold-out Mother’s Day crowd at Wrigley Field home happy with a walk-off blast in the bottom of the 13th inning.
Many remember this series as the one in which Joe Maddon’s coaching staff opted to walk Bryce Harper nearly every time he stepped to the plate. They gave him the full “Barry Bonds treatment” in this game, walking Harper 6 times in 7 plate appearances (he was hit by a pitch in the other trip). Three of those walks were intentional.
The gameplan worked — Harper scored just 1 run and Ryan Zimmerman went only 1-for-7 in the contest as Jake Arrieta permitted only 3 runs (2 earned) in 5 innings and four Cubs relievers combined to toss 8 shutout innings.
It was a strong enough effort to allow the Cubs to rally from a 3-1 deficit and Baez crushed one into the sea of pink in the left field bleachers off Blake Treinen.
Friday, April 10: David Bote’s ultimate grand slam (Aug. 12, 2018)
The most recent game on this list is also one of the most memorable moments in Cubs history.
Cole Hamels and Max Scherzer were locked in a pitcher’s duel on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, but the Nationals squeaked out a run off Hamels and then another pair off reliever Brandon Kintzler.
That set the stage for Bote’s dream moment, becoming the first player to hit a walk-off grand slam with his team down 3 runs since 1963.
Check out more here on the Bote grand slam.