For most of the game Wednesday evening, it looked like the Cubs were going down to another very frustrating defeat to a bad White Sox team. Then the home team suddenly sprung to life in the final two innings and a dramatic walk-off home run sent Wrigley Field into hysteria.
Starting pitchers Javier Assad and Mike Clevinger were sharp early and neither team got a hit through the first three innings. The White Sox drew first blood in the top of the 4th on a pair of singles, with an error by left fielder Ian Happ on the second hit that let the runners advance to second and third.
That mistake proved costly when a wild pitch allowed the first run of the game to score. The South Siders expanded on the lead in the 5th when Gavin Sheets took Assad deep for a two-run home run to make it 3-0. Clevinger kept rolling and did not allow a run in seven strong innings.
The White Sox had numerous additional chances to score but failed to do so, including a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the top of the 8th. Pinch-hitter Nick Madrigal hit a solo home run that just made the basket in left against reliever Aaron Bummer in the bottom of the frame.
The Cubs jumped on Sox closer Gregory Santos in the bottom of the 9th. Cody Bellinger hit a ringing double off the ivy in center and Dansby Swanson drew a walk to put two on with nobody out for Christopher Morel. Morel fell behind 1-2 in the count, but then Santos threw a 100 mph sinker in the middle of the plate that Morel hit the opposite way for the game-winning three-run home run that sent Wrigleyville into pandemonium. (Box score)
CROSSTOWN WALK OFF! pic.twitter.com/E1EwOKdVWA
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 17, 2023
Josè Cuas walked the bases loaded with nobody out in the top of the 8th inning and was replaced. Michael Fulmer proceeded to strike out Luis Robert Jr., Yoan Moncada, and Andrew Vaughn to escape the jam. The Cubs would go on to score four unanswered runs to win the game.
Why the Cubs Won
The Cubs got a good starting pitching performance and, most importantly, finally got to a horrible bullpen just in time to get a huge victory.
Stats That Matter
- Two consecutive quality starts for Assad, very encouraging: 6 IP, 3 R, 4 H, 4 K, and 2 BB.
- Morel has been struggling lately but picked a very good day for a two-hit game.
- Fulmer has been great the past few months since a rough start.
That win was huge for the Cubs and their playoff chances. Losing both games to the White Sox certainly would not have been the end of the season but it definitely would have hurt and could have come back to haunt them later. Instead, they got a dramatic victory and one of those moments that can start a hot streak. It is also a big moment for the developing Morel who could be on his way to becoming a star.
Wrigley Field and the neighborhood get a day to calm down before the Kansas City Royals come in for three games starting Friday at 1:20pm CT. Jameson Taillon faces a yet-to-be-announced KC starter in the game airing on MLB Network (out of market only), Marquee, and 670 The Score.