Chicago Cubs

Baez helps bail out struggling Chatwood

The Cubs' Javier Baez uns the bases after hitting a home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the seventh inning Saturday, July 7, 2018, in Chicago.
The Cubs' Javier Baez uns the bases after hitting a home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the seventh inning Saturday, July 7, 2018, in Chicago.

CHICAGO – The record shows that the Cubs have come from behind in each of their past eight victories.

Javy Baez, who has helped author a few of those comebacks, added the title of historian to his role of author after Saturday’s stunning 8-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.

“We’ve been coming back since 2016; we’ve been doing this,” said Baez, whose RBI single in the Cubs’ four-run eighth inning tied the game, 7-all. Anthony Rizzo then had a run-scoring groundout to put the Cubs ahead.

“We’ve just got to realize who we’ve got in our lineup,” Baez continued. “It doesn’t matter how many runs we’re down. I think we can do a lot of damage if we turn the page to the next guy.”

The Cubs entered the eighth inning down, 7-4, thanks in large part to another poor outing by starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood. More about him in a second.

The offense – along with relievers Randy Rosario (4-0) and Brandon Morrow (20th save) – picked up Chatwood by drawing a pair of walks in the eighth against lefty reliever Amir Garrett. Rookie pinch hitter David Bote singled to load the bases.

Ben Zobrist, who knows a few things about clutch hits (see the 2016 World Series), doubled to the opposite field against right-hander Jared Hughes, setting the stage for Baez (4 for 5 with a home run on the day) and Rizzo.

“And that guy’s tough on Zo right there, that sinkerball down and away,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, whose team is 50-36. “It’s part of what we’ve been doing. If he’s trying to pull that ball, it’s a double play, and everything is not being talked about.

“But he went with it. And that’s what we’ve been doing. We’ve been avoiding rollover double plays a bit.”

Now for the reason the Cubs needed a comeback.

Chatwood found himself in trouble early and often Saturday. He uncorked back-to-back wild pitches in the first inning, each one bringing home a Reds runner from third. He gave up a three-run homer to Eugenio Suarez in the third, as the Reds took a 5-0 lead.

With a bullpen he didn’t want to overtax, Maddon extended Chatwood to a career-high 120 pitches over 52/3 innings. Chatwood gave up nine hits and seven runs while walking four and striking out four as his ERA went from 4.54 to 5.01. His WHIP is an astronomical 1.78, and he has not turned in a quality start since April 29.

“We’ve got to keep working, we got to keep talking to him,” Maddon said. “It wasn’t the walk as much, although the walk was definitely part of it, but then again, they got some big hits against him, the three-run homer on a slider that was left middle-in. It all comes down to execution. If he’s feeling good about his fastball command, he’s not going to make those same mistakes.”

“There’s stuff to work through, I’m not denying that. But ... he fights. He just fights. He’s a fighter. I love him for it. We’ve just got to get all the delivery, strike-throwing stuff straightened out.”

Chatwood said he was happy his teammates picked him up again.

“We’re winning games, so you can’t be too frustrated,” he said. “Selfishly, if you wanted to, yeah, I’m very frustrated, but we’re winning games, so I think that’s all that matters right now.”

Chatwood also heard boos from the crowd of 41,538.

“I can’t control what they do,” he said. “If I pitch good, they’ll probably cheer. I guess pitch better is the moral of that story.” 

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