It’s been a wild weekend in Major-League Baseball as wintry weather conditions forced multiple game postponements, including 6 games scheduled for Jackie Robinson Day. What’s that about reducing the season to 154 games again?
Speaking of inclement weather, the Atlanta Braves played the Chicago Cubs on Saturday at Wrigley Field under some of the worst conditions players have ever faced at the historic ballpark, with a gametime temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. As of the 4th inning, the Braves held a 10-2 lead against the Cubs, whose SP José Quintana only pitched 2-1/3 innings. The Cubs began to chip away at that lead with scoring plays in the 6th and 7th inning, reducing the lead to 10-5.
However, it was the 8th inning that went completely out of control for the Braves, as the Cubs mounted a nine-run rally on just three hits, including an RBI single by C Willson Contreras and a three-run double to tie the game by INF Javier Báez. The other RBIs were contributed by bases-loaded walks to INF/OF Ben Zobrist, OF Kyle Schwarber and INF Tommy La Stella. There was also a 2-run wild pitch with minor-league callup INF Efrén Navarro at bat. The Cubs went on to win with a final score of 14-10.
This was definitely a satisfying, historic win for the Cubs, who are just 7-7 to start the 2018 season. However, Cubs manager Joe Maddon stated in his post-game interview that the “game should not have been played” and that it was the “worst weather game” he had ever participated in. Braves INF Freddie Freeman complained of inability to grip the ball and Cubs RP Eddie Butler, who threw one wild pitch during his relief stint, also said he had trouble with control. It’s not a stretch to say that the conditions played a role in the 8th inning rally by the Cubs, as multiple Braves pitchers had control problems manifesting as walks, hit batters and wild pitches.
In the warmer climes of Texas, the defending champion Houston Astros faced their intrastate and divisional rivals, the Texas Rangers, on Sunday night. The starting pitchers were 2017 World Series hero Justin Verlander for the Astros and 44 year-old Bartolo “Big Sexy” Colón, pitching in his 21st big-league season, for the Rangers. Both pitchers turned in great performances, and Colón made a bid to pass Nolan Ryan as the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter and Randy Johnson as the oldest pitcher to throw a perfect game, taking a perfect game bid into the 8th inning and retiring the first 21 Astros hitters. However, he was removed after 7-2/3 innings after giving up a run to tie the game at 1-1 on a sacrifice fly by Yuli Gurriel. The game remained deadlocked through nine innings. A 2-run double by Robinson Chirinos in the top of the 10th ended up being the decisive play in a 3-1 victory by the Rangers, who also took two out of three in the weekend series.
Hopefully the coming week will bring better weather conditions and more epic battles on the diamond!
Image: Pamela Brick / Shutterstock.com