Contreras grand slam holds up in Chicago Cubs' win
Call them UFOs. Call them what you will.
Many strange objects were flying out of Wrigley Field Wednesday on a night that wasn't exactly flight friendly.
Nevertheless, the Chicago Cubs will take it. On a June 19 evening that featured a temperature of 54 degrees and a chilly, damp, misty wind blowing in, Cubs hitters hit 3 home runs during a 7-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
The win gave the Cubs (40-33) a split of the two-game series and moved them back into first place in the National League Central.
The Cubs got a first-inning grand slam from Willson Contreras, a solo homer by Contreras in the third and a solo shot by David Bote in the fourth, all off Sox ace Lucas Giolito. The Sox got a game-starting homer by Leury Garcia and 1 from James McCann, both off Cubs ace Jon Lester.
"Difficult conditions," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Wind blowing in at a gale, it seemed. Balls flying out -- easily. The ball McCann hit, my God, that just took off. You could actually see it from the field, … It's almost like a UFO just took off. It stood still and then it took off. The first home run of the game, the first pitch, my God, that ball went far.
"I don't know what I'm witnessing, but the way the ball is coming off the bat right now, I guess, is extraterrestrial. It's like an E.T. thing going on right now. It's crazy. This is my fifth year (with the Cubs), and I know what I've seen. Whenever the wind is blowing in like that, you don't see that. You don't see that."
Of course, Maddon is alluding to the ball being lively or "juiced," an opinion widely held in big-league circles.
"No comment," said Lester, who worked 5⅔ innings and improved to 6-5.
Lester then proceeded to comment.
"We can sit here and talk until we're blue in the face about the ball," he said. "It is what it is. Every pitcher in the big leagues that's pitched has to pitch with it. You can comment on it all you want, but it just sounds like an excuse. I don't make excuses."
Cubs batters chased Giolito (10-2) after 4⅓ innings. Contreras, who hit his 14th and 15th homers of the season, was enjoying the night and not citing UFOs. But, eerily enough, he has homered on June 19 in three of his four major-league seasons, including in his big-league plate appearance on June 19, 2016.
"I hit them as line drives," he said. "They weren't flyballs. I was able to put the barrel on top of the ball. That way it created topspin and hit it as a line drive. So it was a good day for us."