Cubs

Colvin gives Cubs walk-off win over Padres

449026.jpg

Colvin gives Cubs walk-off win over Padres

Monday, April 18, 2011Posted: 10:10 p.m. Updated: 11:23 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

The Cubs came storming out of the dugout as if they had just won a playoff game, hopping around home plate. It felt like a raw October night 34 degrees at first pitch and wind strong enough that Geovany Soto could feel his eyes watering.

Teammates mobbed Soto after he sprinted from first base on Tyler Colvins two-out, pinch-hit double into the right-field corner. Just like that, it suddenly ended in the 10th inning, a 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field.

That was the best feeling in the whole world right then and there, Soto said. We wanted to get out of there so badly.
WATCH: Soto's comments on the frigid weather

Really, there was no end in sight. Colvin had been hitless in his last four games and went 3-for-24 on the just-completed road trip. He was pressing and had trouble catching up to the fastball. He lined a 92 mph sinker from Padres reliever Chad Qualls and the celebration was on.

You got to have your confidence, Colvin said. You got to go up there knowing youre going to hit. Thats the way I have to approach it.

WATCH: Colvin on his big hit

It has been that way for the 8-8 Cubs, who have hit the .500 mark eight different times already, the first time theyve opened the season like that in 81 years.

Getting traction in the standings and with fans hasnt been easy. The attendance was announced at 36,597, though there were nowhere near that many bodies in the ballpark. Even Carlos Zambrano walked into the interview room afterward and twisted his head to try to get a look at the Bulls score.

For all the talk across the years about getting rid of Zambrano, were left with this question: Where would the Cubs be without him?

On a pitching staff filled with question marks, Zambrano has been the one carrying the rotation. He gave the Cubs eight scoreless innings and snapped the teams streak of 11 consecutive games without a quality start. He did it without wearing long sleeves.

Thank God that everything is going good for me, Zambrano said. Ive been working hard. Ive been doing whatever it takes in between starts to win, to be ready for every game. We needed this one.

WATCH: Zambrano on the magnitude of this game

Zambrano has not lost a game in almost 10 months, since the Cubs told him to leave U.S. Cellular Field on June 25, 2010 and get into anger-management counseling. He seems to have come out of it in a much better place.

Even in showing up Mike Quade last week, Zambrano demonstrated another level of maturity by immediately apologizing for walking off the mound before the manager got there.

Zambrano didnt try to shift the blame elsewhere. And there was absolutely no rush to get him out of this game as he commanded his fastball and dropped breaking pitches down into the zone. He retired the final 13 Padres he faced and struck out three in a row at two different points.

He stayed calm, Soto said. He stayed within his game.

And as Zambrano neared his 10th and final strikeout, the crowd rose to its feet, getting loud even with Wrigley Field about half-empty.

I love these fans, Zambrano said. Theyve been there for me. When I do badly, theyve been there for me, too. But that gets me going, believe me.

I dont like to screw it up. I just want to go out there and win. Every time I heard something from the crowd, I felt motivated.
Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol combined to shut down the Padres (7-9) across the final two innings. These are the types of games you have to endure in Chicago in April. Maybe it can be a springboard for an inconsistent team looking to get hot.

I believe in this team, Zambrano said. I believe that we can get on a streak and win 10, 15 games in a row. We can do it. If we can keep winning series, (then) when the winning streak comes were going to be in a good position. We have a great team. Its up to us.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

Willson Contreras, Jon Lester carry Cubs to eventful win in the first game of the series with Atlanta

The Cubs and Braves got through roughly one inning of Stranger Things Night at Wrigley Field before Willson Contreras made the evening his own. 

The catcher went 2-4 with three RBI, and provided the most notable moment from the game: a 2nd inning solo homer that caused both benches to clear. Contreras had taken issue with a few of the called strikes earlier in the at-bat, and said something to home plate umpire John Tumpane about it. Contreras continued to make his feelings known as he left the box, drawing the ire of Braves catcher Tyler Flowers.

“To be honest, those pitches weren’t even close to the strike zone,” he said. “[Flowers] got mad because I was talking to the umpire about that, and he jumped into the conversation. 

Contreras then proceeded to shout in the direction of Atlanta’s dugout while rounding first base, and the two catchers exchanged more words as he crossed home plate. The benches quickly emptied, and after a few moments of posturing, returned to their dugouts. 

“It was a lot of emotions together,” he said after the game. “I was having a conversation with the umpire, and it ended up with [Flowers], so that’s all I can say. I just basically told him to do his job and I’ll do mine. I don’t know why he got pissed off because that’s all I said - you do your job and i’ll do mine.”

“I was kind of amused by the whole thing,” Joe Maddon added. “I don’t really know Mr. Flowers - we had a nice conversation, walked away, and it was over. It really wasn’t worth more than what happened.

The confrontation was just one of a few testy moments between these two teams. In the top of the 2nd inning, Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson was caught on cameras shushing the Cubs dugout: 

Two innings later, it was Javy Baez who returned serve by blowing the Braves a kiss after stealing second on Flowers: 

“It’s fun because they’re good,” Maddon said. “And we’re good - that’s the fun part. Monday night, at 7:05, to have that kind of attitude and atmosphere is outstanding. That’s what baseball needs.” 

On the mound, Jon Lester bounced back from a run of three straight underwhelming performances. June hasn’t been kind to Lester, as the lefty had allowed 14 runs over the last 23 IPs prior to Monday’s start, good for a 5.93 FIP. He threw 94 pitches against the Braves, lasting six innings while allowing two runs -- both unearned, though -- and striking out seven. He only threw 94 pitches, but his control (0 BB) was excellent. Lester spotted his strikeout pitch well all night, getting four of his six right-handed K’s on the low outside corner:

“I just tried to stay down there, and had the backdoor cutter to those guys,” Lester said. “We were able to kind of exploit that, and then when we felt that guys were reaching out there a little bit, I ran the cutter in on some guys too. I was just able to command both sides of the plate tonight, which is huge against an offense like that.” 

“Great job by Jon,” Maddon added, “Jon had great stuff. Coming off of [throwing 114 pitches], he’s been throwing a lot of pitches on regular rest, so I wanted to limit that tonight. He was lobbying to go back out, but I didn’t feel good about it based on the longevity of the season and we had a rested Kintzler.

“But Jon was really good, and really good against a tough lineup.”

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

wrigley-scoreboard-624.jpg
USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Live from Wrigley it's Cubs Authentic Fan Night

Ozzie Guillen and Doug Glanville join Leila Rahimi to talk all things Chicago baseball as the Cubs take on the Braves and the White Sox look to get a win in Boston.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: