Cubs

Javy Baez gives the Cubs a jolt with epic grand slam, bat flip

Javy Baez gives the Cubs a jolt with epic grand slam, bat flip

What first inning struggles??

The Cubs have had issues in the opening frame of games lately, but Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, that was certainly not the case.

After making Cincinnati Reds starter Amir Garrett work in the first inning, Addison Russell forced home a run by drawing a walk.

Four pitches later, Javy Baez made it hurt big time, drilling a 1-2 Garrett offering off the bottom of the left-field video board:

Here's the full play:

It was Baez's third career grand slam; he hit two in 2016 (June 28 and Sept. 26).

The June 28, 2016 blast came in the 15th inning against the Reds last year:

It was also the Cubs' first first-inning grand slam since Junior Lake accomplished the feat in 2013:

Another interesting note: Baez now has as many grand slams on the season as walks earned (he has four intentional walks, one unintentional).

Baez has three homers in his last 10 games and is on pace for 24 longballs, a jump from the career-high 14 he smacked in 2016.

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

Basket Slam: Wrigley's quirks come to Cubs' aid in walk-off win

The Wrigley Field basket has played a huge role in this week's Cubs-Reds series.

In Monday night's game, Cincinnati catcher Curt Casali hit a game-tying homer into the basket in the seventh inning of a game the Cubs went on to lose.

But the basket giveth and the basket also taketh away.

Tuesday night, it was Kyle Schwarber and the Cubs who were singing the praises of one of the strangest ballpark quirks in baseball.

Schwarber connected on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th inning off Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, hitting a fly ball through the impossibly-humid air and into the basket in left-centerfield for a 4-3 Cubs win.

"Whoever thought about that basket — whenever that occurred — tell them, 'thank you,'" Joe Maddon said. "Although it did work against us [Monday]. When it works for you, it's awesome."

Schwarber has stood under the left-field basket many times with his back against the wall, thinking he might be able to make a play on a high fly ball only to see it settle into the wickets and turn into a chance for a Bleacher Bum to show off their arm. 

But is he a huge fan of the basket now that it worked in his favor?

"I guess so," Schwarber laughed. "Yesterday, it cost us, but today, it helped us out. It's just the factor of Wrigley Field. Happy it worked out today."

It was Schwarber's first career walk off RBI of any kind.

It was the Cubs' fourth walk-off homer of the season, but their first since May 11 when Willson Contreras called "game" on the Milwaukee Brewers. 

The Cubs are now 4-1 since the All-Star Break and hold a 2.5-game lead in the division.

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Big changes to the Cubs roster

willson_contreras_usa_today.png
USA TODAY

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Big changes to the Cubs roster

Doug Glanville and Ozzie Guillen join Leila Rahimi on Baseball Night in Chicago to discuss all things baseball.

The talk about the trade that sent Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery to the Royals in exchange for Martin Maldonado, Willson Contreras' injury that sent him to the injured list and an update on the White Sox roster moves and rebuild status.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: