Heyward's pinch-hit single leads Cubs to sweep of Mets
The Cubs had a couple chances to prove their situational hitting chops in Thursday's series-finale against the New York Mets.
They succeeded in the bottom of the 10th inning. David Bote executed the first sacrifice bunt of his big-league career, which moved runners to second and third. The Mets walked Eric Sogard intentionally, which set the stage for a game-winning, pinch-hit RBI single by Jason Heyward to sweep the series with a 4-3 victory.
With the Cubs facing left-handed starting pitchers, Heyward wasn't in the lineup two days in a row.
So it was an unusual situation for him, not only sitting out two days in a row, but pinch-hitting late in a game.
"To get where you want to be as a team, you're going to have to do things you're not always called on to do," Heyward said. "Knowing it's going to take sacrifice to get somewhere new and if it means me doing that or somebody else doing something different out of their comfort zone, it's awesome to be able to come through right there. Great game by everybody on our squad."
The Cubs pinch-hit in a key situation earlier in the game, but the Mets had a left-handed reliever on the mound, so Ross used right-handed hitting Austin Romine.
"It was something we knew at the back end of their bullpen, the matchups favor him pretty good and I think it's rare you get to save a guy waiting for the right matchup," Ross said. "Kudos to Jay-Hey for staying ready. He's always ready, hits in the cage and stays ready."
The Cubs (9-9) failed the situational hitting test in the eighth, though. They seemed to be in great shape when Jake Marisnick led off the eighth inning with a line drive into the right-field corner and cruised around the bases for a triple.
But pinch-hitter Austin Romine popped out to short right field, then Ian Happ struck out swinging. If anyone's wondering, freshly-recalled Nico Hoerner was already used as a pinch-hitter in the fifth and flied out. Willson Contreras struck out to end the eighth inning.
In the top of the tenth, Dan Winkler gave up a wild pitch and 2 walks to load the bases, but coaxed an inning-ending double play to get out of the jam with no damage. Craig Kimbrel retired the side with ease in the ninth.
"That's a good character win right there," Ross said. "Felt like we didn't come through in some moments. But guys stepped up made pitches when they had to, made plays and we came through with a big knock at the end by Jay-Hey."
The Cubs beat Mets lefty David Peterson on Wednesday, improving to 4-0 against left-handed starters this season. Hitting lefties was such a problem last season, the Cubs traded for Jose Martinez, who was supposed to help in that regard, but he never got a hit with his new team and was let go in the offseason.
Heading into Thursday's contest, the Cubs were batting .227 against left-handers and .193 against righties, so they've actually flipped that split since last season.
"I think in general, that was a weakness of ours last year," Ross said before the game. "But last year our righties in general were just kind of off than what their career track record would tell us. I think Kris (Bryant) is in a better place, Javy (Baez) is in a better place against left-handers."
The Cubs got just 2 hits against Lucchesi, but managed to string together a 3-run inning in the third. The rally started when Marisnick worked a walk from a long at-bat. Pitcher Trevor Williams came up next trying to bunt, but watched four bad ones instead and took another walk.
Marisnick took third when Happ lined to right, then scored on Contreras' infield hit that bounced off Lucchesi. Bryant followed with a timely 2-run double off the left-center field wall to drive in both runs and make it 3-0.
Williams had a chance to earn the victory. He left after 5 innings with a 3-2 lead, his only mishap a long 2-run homer by Pete Alonso in the fourth. It was the second-straight night Alonso knocked one onto Waveland Ave.
In the seventh, Jason Adam hit Mets leadoff hitter Jonathan Villar, then J.D. Davis drove in the tying run with a pinch-hit double off the wall in left-center against Ryan Tepera.