It was a good day to be a former Marlin-turned Cub, as both Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano were the two linchpins for the Cubs today as they picked up a 5-4 walkoff victory against the Braves. giving them their first win of 2014 against our boys.
Chris Coghlan picked up where he left off back in 2011 as a Florida Marlin with his torment of the Braves, and he started in the 3rd with a double to center, which was the first hit of the game for either team. Coghlan decided that he wasn't content with just waiting on 2nd base, and proceeded to steal 3rd base with no problem. This was in stark contrast to Jordan Schafer's attempt to steal 3rd back in the 1st inning, which resulted in an out that ended up killing the rally for the Braves in that inning. After Alex Wood walked Mike Olt, Coghlan eventually made it home thanks to a bunt by starting pitcher Jake Arrieta to make it 1-0. Justin Ruggiano made it 2-0 after hitting a dribbler past Andrelton Simmons. This wouldn't be the last time we saw this happen.
The Braves wouldn't take this lying down, though, as they fired right back in the 4th inning. Schafer made it on base with a walk and then stole 2nd, giving the Braves a nice scoring opportunity. Andrelton Simmons doubled to right, and 9 times out of 10 when someone gets a double with a runner on 2nd, it results in an RBI. This was that 1 time, as Schafer for some reason decided to hang on at 2nd base a bit longer than he should have. Instead of a 2-1 game, it was still 2-0, but there were runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs.
Freddie Freeman then contributed to the cause with a productive out that plated Schafer. Justin Upton produced in a similar manner, as his ground out brought in Simba to tie the game, absolving Schafer of his baserunning error.
The 5th inning came and went with no scoring, and the scoring resumed in the 6th after Alex Wood finally got his first career Major League hit in comedic fashion after he was hit in the back with the ball on his way to 1st base. A sacrifice bunt and a ground-out later, this set the table for Freddie Freeman to try to add on to his RBI tally. He did so with a ball that probably would have left the park if the wind was blowing out. Instead, it was one of those days at Wrigley where the wind was blowing in, so the ball landed right at the base of the center field wall. Freeman reached on a double, and Alex Wood got his 2nd career run to go along with his 1st career hit, and the run put the Braves in the lead.
Alex Wood then took the bump for the bottom of 6th and completely undid all the good work the offense did to get the lead. Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Welington Castro all reached base on a double, single, and HBP to load the bases. Wood struck out Junior Lake to give the Braves a modicum of hope that he could maybe get out of it. That hope was squashed when Chris Coghlan remembered that he was playing the Braves and came up big in a run-producing spot, as he singled to right to tie the game. Alex Wood's day ended on that note (with a line of 5.1 IP, 6 Ks, 3 BBs, and 4 ERs), and it was time for Shae Simmons to come in for another tight spot. Shae marked the occasion by walking Luis Valbuena on 4 pitches to give the Cubs the lead. Shae retired the next 2 batters in the 6th and all 3 batters in the 7th, but his outing will unfortunately be remembered for that free pass.
After 7.2 innings, Jake Arrieta finally sat down with 4 hits allowed, 6 strikeouts, 3 walks, and 3 earned runs. It wasn't Arrieta's best day, but any day when you give the Cubs a chance to win is a good day, and he did just that. Indeed, the Cubs had a shot at winning this thing in the 9th with Hector Rondon on the mound for the save.
The 9th didn't start well for Rondon at all, as Jason Heyward collected his 2nd double of the day. Two pitches later, the Braves were down to their final out after Chris Johnson blazed one right into Starlin Castro's glove and Tommy La Stella squibbed a grounder to right. This meant that Christian Bethancourt was the Braves' last hope for the day. Just as Johnson and TLS did, Bethancourt swung at the Rondon's first pitch. The difference is that Bethancourt's ball got through the infield and brought in Heyward to score the tying run, guaranteeing that this game would at least go to the bottom of the 9th
Jordan Walden came in for the bottom half of the 9th in an effort to send the game to extras. For the first two batters, it looked like we were well on our way to extra innings. Then Arismendy Alcantara, playing in his 3rd career Major League game, got on base as the winning run with a single. Alcantara then collected his first career stolen base. Meanwhile, Justin Ruggiano was at bat. Remember this bit from earlier?
Justin Ruggiano made it 2-0 after hitting a dribbler past Andrelton Simmons. This wouldn't be the last time we saw this happen.
This was the next time it happened. Ruggiano hit a dribbler past Andrelton Simmons to win the game for the Cubs.
This was Chicago's 2nd consecutive win, while the Braves have lost 5 of their past 6: 1 to the 39-54 Diamondbacks, 3 to the 42-50 Mets, and now 1 to the now-40-52 Cubs. Boy, the Braves sure are taking advantage of this run in their schedule!