ST. LOUIS – The goal over the next 10 days for the Cubs is to do what they can to eliminate any distraction. Manager David Ross wants the focus to be on every game and not on the rumors, reports and reactions that fly as the trade deadline looms.
Take Tuesday’s unlikely 7-6 win over rival Cardinals as a snapshot. After an early exit from Kris Bryant – leading to a storm of speculation on social media – Chicago rallied six points in the ninth for a stunning victory.
And it was Ian Happ – Bryant’s replacement on the left following the star’s exit with what the team described as right hamstring fatigue – who delivered the decisive blow.
Happ shot a shot from closest star Alex Reyes into the right corner of Busch Stadium, tackling two runs to help Chicago win for just the fifth time in 20 games. It was the first time since April 29, 1979 that the Cubs had erased a five-point deficit in the ninth inning.
The ninth inning got off to an unusual start, with Patrick Wisdom reaching first base on a strikeout via a wild pitch from reliever Luis García. A combo to an error on the infield (on a short field of Nico Hoerner) and a subsequent march (Jake Marisnick) then charged the goals without an out.
Sergio Alcántara and Anthony Rizzo then shot goal-laden free passes against Reyes, who then gave up a two-run single to cross Javier Báez’s bat.
That set things up for Happ, who’s been trying to get out of an offensive funk lately. The closest to the throw sent a fast 97mph over the heart of the plate and Happ completed the six-point swing.