Wisdom wins extended battle, Cubs finally shut down Marlins
Patrick Wisdom's epic 15-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning Sunday didn't win the game for the Cubs.
A solid start by Alec Mills, a couple amazing defensive plays by Javy Baez and another complete shutdown by the bullpen propelled the Cubs to a 2-0 victory over the Miami Marlins at Wrigley Field.
But Wisdom's lengthy stay in the batter's box might have represented a turning point for the Cubs offense. After a full week of relying on home runs to score, they finally strung together some hits and manufactured an insurance run.
"I know we plated one, it felt like we plated three with how it's been going lately," Cubs manager David Ross said. "It felt like from my seat that (Wisdom) was just not going to get out. He was going to refuse to get out. I think that mindset goes a long way. It sparks the club, it sparks the fans. You felt the energy."
Here's the situation: First of all, Wisdom went up as sort of an unexpected pinch-hitter. Jason Heyward actually saw two pitches in this slot during the previous inning, before Anthony Rizzo was picked off second base for the third out. When the Marlins brought in a left-hander from the bullpen in Ross Detwiler, Ross thought the right-handed Wisdom was a better matchup.
Wisdom started out 0-2, worked the count even, then fouled off nine of the next 10 pitches. Finally on the 15th pitch, he hit a liner to shortstop that dropped out of Miguel Rojas' glove. It was ruled a hit, could have been an error, but either way, Wisdom was on first base.
"It's a mixture of focus and kind of relaxation and a little bit of fun," Wisdom said. "It was pretty fun to battle like that and then get to first and the pitcher looks over at me and we kind of just made that eye contact like, 'Dang, what a battle.' Obviously, I love to come out on top and spark that inning, get a run in. that was huge for us."
Just as they did last week when Anthony Rizzo homered on a 14-pitch at-bat, the fans at Wrigley appreciated Wisdom's staying power.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel that energy," Wisdom said. "That place was electric. It gives me goose bumps right now just thinking about it. Almost like it kept me in the zone, kept me focused."
Wisdom came around to score after Jake Marisnick and Joc Pederson followed with singles. Kris Bryant grounded into a double play to end the inning, but enough damage was done to make it significant.
The Cubs had scored their last 12 runs by the homer (six solo and six 2-run shots), and lost five of six games. They scored Sunday's first run without a hit when Heyward walked, went to third on an error and came home on a wild pitch.
Mills really picked up the pitching staff. After the Marlins scored 21 runs and hit 7 homers in the first two games of this series, he threw 5 scoreless innings.
The A-team bullpen finished it off by retiring all 12 batters during the final four innings. Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel have combined to throw 48⅓ consecutive scoreless innings, with 63 strikeouts.
Kimbrel recorded his 20th save and is now tied for ninth place on the all-time saves list with Jonathan Papelbon with 368.
"After the way the last two games went," Mills said, "I think it was a really big thing for us to go out and get a good team win and kind of stop that (negative) momentum."