CHICAGO – The weather was awful. Sometimes the baseball was farcical.
But in the end, it was another Wrigley Field thriller, if not an artistic masterpiece.
On a day when hands took on the color of grape Popsicles, the Cubs kept the fires burning after being down 10-2 to the Atlanta Braves in the fourth inning.
They rallied for a run in the sixth inning, two in the seventh and nine in the eighth to score a stunning 14-10 victory.
The game began with a temperature of 38 degrees and northeast winds of 24 mph, contributing to a wind chill of 28.
The weather got only worse from there.
“The craziest, absolutely,” third baseman Kris Bryant said. “Freezing cold. How many was it, 10-2? I think we scored all nine of those runs with two outs, too. I don’t know. Give credit to the fans for sticking that one out with us. Just one of the craziest wins that I’ve been a part of.”
Once again, Javy Baez stole the show for the Cubs. His three-run double in the eighth tied the game at 10, and Kyle Schwarber later drew his second RBI walk of the game to put the Cubs ahead.
“It’s not a good feeling when you’re down that much, especially in that weather,” said Schwarber, who came off the bench in the sixth inning. “When you’re on the bench, we want to be out there with those guys trying to grind it out with them. It was just a great sign of resilience there.
“I would say that we all had really great attitudes the whole game there.”
Baez, the center of attention much of the week after having his “respect for the game” questioned by Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, was 0 for 4 when he came to the plate in the eighth. In the field, he had made one dazzling fielding play in covering first base and also committed a throwing error.
“The weather really got to me today,” he said. “No excuses on playing defense with my error. We don’t really give up – never. The energy in the dugout was pretty pumped.”
There were all kinds of crazy occurrences in this one:
• Cubs starting pitcher Jose Quintana lasted only 21/3 innings, giving up seven runs before being bailed out by reliever Eddie Butler and the rest of the bullpen.
• During pitching changes in the latter part of the game, Braves outfielders left the field to seek warmth in the bullpen.
• Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies tried to throw a ball to first base, but it squirted out of his hand and went to the pitcher’s mound instead.
• Atlanta relievers threw 55 pitches in the eighth inning alone. Of the 14 pitches Sam Freeman threw, only two were strikes. In all the two teams combined to throw 397 pitches for the game. The Cubs’ nine runs in the eighth came on only three hits.
Before the game, Cubs manager Joe Maddon again voiced his opinion that elements such as Saturday’s were not conducive to playing baseball. Even though the Cubs won, Maddon reiterated those concerns.
“I thought the 2008 World Series game was the worst game I ever participated in,” Maddon said of a game he managed for the Rays at Philadelphia. “I think it just got passed. That’s not baseball weather. I don’t know what the intent is. I really don’t (on playing the game). Again, the elements were horrific to play baseball. It’s not conducive.
“We made mistakes on the infield. They made mistakes on the field, the outfield, based on weather-related issues. These are really good players. I think to a certain extent, their wildness toward the end of the game was (attributed) to the horrible weather. Whatever. We’re going to do what we’re asked or told to do. But I’m just here to tell you that was the worst elements I’ve ever participated in a baseball game in, ever, and I’ve been in some pretty bad stuff.”