CHICAGO – If Cubs players were wearing their World Series rings to Wednesday night’s Bricks and Ivy charity ball, they might have shown fans the inscription.
On each player’s ring, it reads: “We never quit.”
That was the rallying cry last year, and it rang out in the clubhouse after Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.
Apparently, it’s still a thing this year.
Addison Russell hit a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning off Neftali Feliz to cap a four-run rally and lift the Cubs to a 7-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field.
“Absolutely, we feel very strongly about that,” Russell said of the slogan. “It seems that whenever you kind of count us out, we seem to have a spark. That’s all it takes, just one hit, one walk and we get rolling.”
The Cubs were on the brink of falling below .500 again at 7-8, as they trailed 4-1 in this game. But the victory moved them to 8-7 and had them feeling good again after scoring back-to-back come-from-behind victories over the Brewers to take two of three in the series.
Over the previous weekend, the Pirates swept the Cubs in three, and it seemed a little queasiness had crept in during an emotional homestand, during which the Cubs raised their championship banner and received those rings.
But the equilibrium seems to have returned as they get set to embark on a three-city trip that begins Friday at Cincinnati.
“It is the resiliency, it is the fact that we do not quit,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s on the ring. We do not quit. It’s on the ring, man. And that’s a perfect example today.
“I don’t think that we’ve really been feeling badly. It’s just that Pittsburgh came from behind twice and beat us. All of a sudden, we returned the favor against Milwaukee. Again, it’s the latter part of the game. We did a better job of taking care of the latter part of the game today. We have to do that more consistently. You’re seeing signs, really good signs, with the bullpen guys.”
The bullpen pitched four scoreless innings in relief of starter Kyle Hendricks, who gave up four hits and four runs in his five innings.
Even though the optics hadn’t been good, Cubs relievers came into the game with an ERA of 3.83, and they lowered that to 3.53 Wednesday to go along with a WHIP of 1.20.
As for Hendricks, the reigning ERA champ in baseball is at 6.19.
as he sorts out things with his mechanics. He gave a nod of appreciation to his teammates.
“Today, especially, that was an unbelievable win today,” he said. “Getting behind early like that and for the bullpen to come in and shut it down, really for those last four innings, and the offense. Tough in the beginning against (Brewers starting pitcher Tommy) Milone; he threw really well today. Just grinding out at-bats, man, it was fun to watch from in here.
“Yeah, that’s what we were doing all year last year. So it was really good to see.”