The go-figure moments were all over the place Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs handed New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka his first regular-season loss since Aug. 19, 2012 when they beat the Bronx Bombers 6-1 on a rainy evening.
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Tanaka, the much-celebrated right-hander out of Japan, had gone 42 regular-season starts (34-0) between Nippon Professional Baseball and Major League Baseball and had totally dominated the Cubs last month in Yankee Stadium.
The Cubs got production from all over the lineup, including from No. 8 hitter and catcher John Baker, who entered the game batting .063. Baker hit two balls to the vines against Tanaka, good for a single and a double. He also hit a sacrifice fly against Tanaka in the sixth, when the Cubs scored twice to increase a 2-1 lead to 4-1.
Tanaka entered the game 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA, and the Cubs became the first team in the major leagues to face him twice.
"The guys did a nice job of trying to get him up in the zone, get pitches they could handle, and I thought they did a very nice job today working him a little bit," said Cubs manager Rick Renteria, whose club has won three in a row.
The Cubs' plan going into the game was to make Tanaka get his pitches up in the strike zone.
They made him work in the third and fourth innings, when they scored single runs.
On the other side, Cubs starting pitcher Jason Hammel cruised most of the night, despite being hit with a comebacker off the bat of leadoff man Brett Gardner to begin the game. Hammel got into some trouble in the sixth and lasted 5.2 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run.
"It's good," Hammel said of his hand. "I've got a good little egg (swelling) on there, but other than that, adrenaline was able to carry me through. First warm-up pitch after that scared me a little bit. I wasn't prepared for it to hurt. I let go of the ball and fired it halfway up the backstop."
The Cubs entered the game with a record of 15-27 despite having a run differential of only minus-3. Part of that stemmed from being 2-9 in 1-run games and 2-8 in 2-run games.
"I think that we've had games where we were down significantly, came back, chipped away and scored 2 or 3 more runs and got us closer to what we needed to do to possibly overcome a deficit," said Rick Renteria. "We weren't able to overcome the deficit as much as we'd like. I think in late-inning ballgame situations, we've been very close to overcoming, but not quite getting that big hit we needed to."