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Three key moments from Cubs’ win over Padres in series finale

12 months agoAndy Martinez

The Cubs beat the Padres 5-2 on Thursday at Wrigley Field and took two of three from San Diego.

Here’s three pivotal moments from the series winner:

Madrigal’s defense

With two outs in the 7th inning and trailing 4-1, the Padres seemingly had a rally going — and with the heart of their lineup due up.

They had runners on first and second with Fernando Tatis Jr. up and Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts and Manny Machado behind him. Against Keegan Thompson, Tatis hit a soft, 70.6 mph, bouncing groundball to third base that looked destined for trouble.

“I was ready for the ball, I thought initially off the bat I would have no chance at him at first,” Cubs third baseman Nick Madrigal said.

Tatis has elite speed, so the ball had to be fielded perfectly, transferred smoothly and the throw rifled with enough speed and accuracy to let the Cubs escape a jam.

That’s exactly what happened. Madrigal charged at the ball, took on a short hop and beat Tatis with his throw.

“I thought that was the game-saving play,” manager David Ross said. “If you lay back, Tatis is safe, you don’t know — you got the heart of their lineup coming up and that guy flies, so really nice play by Nick on that.

“He’s looked good at third. But that was a spectacular play, for sure.”

Not bad, for a converted third baseman.

“I think any play out there, kinda just helps some more notches on your belt out there,” Madrigal said. “Definitely coming through for the team and in those situations, you gotta want the ball hit to you. Usually if you don’t want the ball hit to you, the ball finds you somehow. It’s a crazy game. Overall, feeling pretty good.”

Wrigley winds

Eric Hosmer has gotten the hang of the shifty winds at Wrigley Field.

“I think hitting, you’re starting to learn kinda which way the flag’s blowing and the scoreboard in left blocks a lot of stuff,” he said.

But it can still be unpredictable.

“That’s the thing, it almost seems like the wind kinda changes during the inning or during the game as well,” Hosmer said.

In the 2nd inning, it benefitted the Cubs — Hosmer and center fielder Nelson Velázquez hit back-to-back home runs to give them a 2-1 lead. Then, Nick Madrigal was hit by a pitch. Tucker Barnhart hit a seemingly lazy fly ball to center field with two outs and the wind did its thing, again, as Padres’ outfielder Trent Grisham misplayed it and it dropped in front of him, allowing Madrigal to score from first.

“The popups and the stuff defensively is definitely an adjustment,” Hosmer said. “You can’t ever really give up on balls. Balls that start out and look like they’re not at you can end up towards you. I think that’s really the biggest adjustment.”

Then, in the 5th inning, Tatis hit a ball 102.6 mph off the bat to right field, a ball that had an .830 expected batting average. Seiya Suzuki ran it down and caught it on the warning track, ending the inning.

“I guess that was just bad timing for him to hit it,” Hosmer said of his old teammate. “But it definitely sounded like he got it good, but just didn’t get enough and Seiya did a good job of running all those balls down out there.”

Good timing for the Cubs, though.

Swanson’s first home run as a Cub

After the rally-killing play in the top of the 7th, the Cubs did what they’ve started to do a good job of this season — tack on more runs. This time it came in the form of Dansby Swanson, who hit his first home run as a Cub, a basket-shot to right field.

“Feel like I got a good glimpse of what Wrigley wind can do. It’s obviously cool,” Swanson said. “Special place, getting the first one out of the way is definitely a good feeling, for sure.”

During their last homestand, Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer mentioned the importance of being able to continue to tally runs against teams to finish off games — it’s the killer instinct that good teams have.

So far this season, the Cubs have shown a knack for being able to do that.

“One thing I’ve loved about this team in general, just not being complacent with the lead —2, 3 runs, just always adding on,” Ross said.

Thursday had helped Swanson break out of a little rut he had been on offensively since his hot start to the season. In his last 8 games before Thursday Swanson was 2-for-27, but took solace in his 10 walks, still being able to grind out at-bats. Thursday he was 2-for-4.

“I think the biggest thing is there’s so many different ways to contribute, right?” Swanson said. “Hitting’s the hardest thing to do in sports and sometimes it falls, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they’re going your way, sometimes it’s not.

“Whether it’s playing defense, whether it’s drawing walks, running the bases well, there’s just so many different things that can be done and just those little moments obviously could potentially help us win and I think that’s just kinda the perspective that you need to keep.”

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