How Nico Hoerner started a 10th inning rally with a simple stolen base
No one ever wants to make the final out of an inning.
But there’s a small silver lining to doing so in the 9th inning of a tie game.
“There’s a positive side to it, you get to do something else the next inning,” Nico Hoerner told Taylor McGregor after the Cubs’ 6-2 win in Philadelphia.
That’s exactly what Hoerner did.
With 1 out in the 10th, Hoerner — who was the designated runner to lead off the 10th — raced for third and swiped the bag to move 90 feet from home in a tie game. Frank Schwindel hit a grounder to Alec Bohm and Hoerner slid into home ahead of Bohm’s throw to give the Cubs the lead and sparked a 5-run inning.
“The Nico big bag back there put the pressure on them,” David Ross told reporters in Philadelphia. “They gotta bring the infield in and good things happen. Nice job of guys putting balls in play, make the defense make plays and we continue to have good at-bats and it was nice.”
The stolen base came at a crucial moment for the Cubs, too.
Patrick Wisdom led off the 10th inning and on an 0-2 count, he took a pitch that appeared to clip the zone, but home plate umpire CB Bucknor called it a ball. On the very next pitch, Wisdom took another pitch, this one slightly higher than the last and Bucknor rang him up.
Ross left the dugout to argue the call and was ejected.
But Hoerner waited for his moment. He knew he wasn’t going to be attempting to steal the base with Wisdom at the plate. So, when Schwindel was up to bat, he waited for his moment and took it.
“Let the first at-bat happen and then try to make something happen with one out,” Hoerner said. “Was able to time it up all right and scored a run and led to a bunch. Great at-bats that inning.”
The Cubs then continued to put together strong plate appearances. They brought 8 batters to the plate that inning with RBIs from Christopher Morel, Nelson Velázquez and Willson Contreras to seal the win.
“They threw some really good pitching at us tonight and we keep fighting and having quality ABs, but I think the nice read from Nico to be able to steal third and then the the contact play to put the pressure on them was really what started it all,” Ross said. “Then guys just started having quality at-bats.”
It capped off a strong performance from starter Marcus Stroman who went 6+ innings, striking out 5 and allowing just 1 run on 5 hits and a pair of walks.
“I think he just found his sinker. I feel like his sinker has shown up so much better since he’s come back,” Ross said. “When you get starts like that you feel like you’re in every ball game. We’ve been in some, but now I don’t have to go to the bullpen till the 6th or 7th inning so we actually have some guys extended there that you get into extras and we’ve still got a lot of good arms down there left to fire some bullets.”