David Bote, Adbert Alzolay come up clutch for Cubs
Adbert Alzolay has a knack for debuts and David Bote has a knack for clutch hits.
For the second time this week, Bote delivered a crucial go-ahead knock for the Cubs in the Game 2 of a doublehader against the Cardinals.
On Monday, it was a pinch-hit 3-run shot. Wednesday, it was a 2-run single up the middle on an 0-2 pitch in the top of the 7th inning, lifting the Cubs to a 4-2 win over the Cardinals. It salvaged a split in the doubleheader and gave the Cubs a 3-2 series victory in the wild week.
It was also the second time this week that the Cubs won a game as the visiting team at Wrigley Field, as the Cardinals batted last in the second game of both doubleheaders as makeups from the series that was postponed in St. Louis earlier this month.
The Cubs called up Alzolay from South Bend to serve as their 29th man for the double dip. In his MLB debut last summer, he threw 4 strong innings in relief. In his first big-league appearance of 2020, he followed the script with a big outing for the Cubs.
Alzolay, 25, struck out 6 in 5 innings, surrendering only an unearned run on 2 hits and a walk. The Cardinals tied the game with a run off Cubs ace reliever Jeremy Jeffress in the 6th, tying the game and setting the stage for Bote’s heroics.
Craig Kimbrel picked up his 1st save of the season by striking out 3 in the bottom of the 7th inning.
Victor Caratini gave Alzolay an early lead with a 2-run single in the 2nd inning off St. Louis starter Johan Oviedo — who, speaking of debuts, was pitching in his first MLB game.
The Cubs offense once again wore out the Cardinals pitching staff, forcing Oviedo and Co. to throw 121 pitches in the 7 innings.
However, the Cubs only had 2 hits going into the 7th inning, but they knew they would eventually break through if they kept the same approach.
“We continue to put the pressure on the defense,” David Ross said. “Getting on base, you feel like that stuff’s gotta come through at some point, somebody’s gonna get a hit. David again tonight — 2 huge hits in this series. We continue to grind, get guys on. Nice job of [Kyle Schwarber] leading off the inning [against a] tough lefty, hitting the ball the other way — just playing pepper — was nice to see.
“I mean, these guys, they make you work to get them out. There’s some things we can still get better at, but we continue to grind and work those counts. It’s definitely fun to watch.”
Even though they didn’t get the results early in the game, the Cubs were hitting the ball hard.
Here were some of the exit velocities against Oviedo in the first few innings:
Only the last one was a hit (Happ’s triple). The Cubs were 0-for-7 on their hardest-hit balls of the game off the Cardinals starter before cashing in against the St. Louis bullpen with 4 singles in the final inning.
As they continued to hit into hard outs early in the game, the Cubs didn’t let each other get caught up in the results.
“It’s hard as it is,” Jason Heyward said. “But we try to all continue to pick each other up and let each other know and remind ourselves how hard it is going out there facing pitchers these past few days that we haven’t seen and just staying within that mindset. And obviously still playing a good team.
“One day at a time. Yeah, it’s hard. But again with this short season, not having a whole lot of time to dwell on things and just try to keep it moving.”
The Cubs (16-8) have a much-needed off-day Thursday before welcoming the White Sox into Wrigley Field for a three-game series beginning Friday night. Coverage begins on Marquee Sports Network at 6 p.m.