John Axford (3-4, 3.90) can’t make it easy on himself. Given a one run lead on a dramatic top of 9 home run by the sizzling Carlos Gonzalez, Axford had a relatively harmless menu ahead of him, Addison Russell, Dexter Fowler, and David Ross. With one out, home plate umpire Mark Carlson put the squeeze on Axford on a 1-2 curveball to Fowler, and the former Rockie took advantage, singling on the next pitch and as a consequence bringing Kris Bryant into the equation. Axford retired Ross on a fly ball, but with 2 out Bryant put a thrill into the Wrigley Field crowd of 35,070, massacring an 87 MPH slider WAY over the wall in center-field. The Chicago Cubs walked-off with a 9-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Troy Tulowitzki did not take the field on defense in the bottom of the 9th, and it is rumored Tulo has been traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for shortstop Jose Reyes and prospects. As of 4:45 am there has not been an announcement by the Rockies.
The game was a see-saw affair. Colorado took the lead initially with 2 in the 3rd and 2 in the 4th. Gonzalez knocked-in former Cub DJ LeMahieu with a home run to center in the 3rd, and the Rockies used singles by Ben Paulsen and Mike McKenry, a walk to Charlie Blackmon, and a single by LeMahieu to go up by four in the 4th.
Chicago roared immediately back against Colorado starter Jorge De La Rosa, who had been perfect through three. De La Rosa walked Fowler and Kyle Schwarber to set the kindling, then Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, and Starlin Castro had singles, and Chris Denorfia mixed in an RBI ground ball to put the Cubs ahead 5-4 with one out. Russell followed a sacrifice by Chicago starter Kyle Hendricks with a double to left that plated Castro and ended the night for DLR. Christian Friedrich came on to get the final out, but the Cubs had the lead, 6-4.
They would run it to 7-4 in the 6th when Denorfia singled and scored on a throwing error by Nolan Arenado, and the Rockies were silent from the 5th through the 8th, then pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso led-off the 9th with a homer off Chicago right-hander Jason Motte. Charlie Blackmon singled and LeMahieu doubled to put runners at 2nd and 3rd. Tulowitzki grounded to 3rd against Rafael Soriano to score Blackmon, then Gonzalez drilled a 91 MPH Soriano fastball into the right-field seats for an 8-7 Colorado lead and a save opportunity for Axford.
The right-hander, who’s struggled mightily after a superior start, wasn’t up to the task.
Game 2 of the 3-game set is tonight at Wrigley, first pitch at 6:05 MDT, as the Rockies apparently venture out into the post-Tulowitzki era. Spot starters will be on for both squads. The Cubs are calling-up right-hander Daniel Beeler from AAA Iowa and Colorado turns to the immortal Yohan Flande.