Cubs

Kris Bryant Watch can wait after Cubs complete dramatic comeback win

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Kris Bryant Watch can wait after Cubs complete dramatic comeback win

DENVER — There’s always some sort of drama around this team.

That’s how one Cubs employee accurately summed it up before Sunday’s 6-5 comeback victory over the Colorado Rockies in front of 41,363 at Coors Field.

Dexter Fowler changed the mood with one swing in the ninth inning, launching a two-out, two-run homer beyond the right-field wall and into the second deck. LaTroy Hawkins — who was a guest at Fowler’s wedding a couple of years ago — had been one strike away from ending the game.

Fowler crushed Hawkins’ slider/cutter and got some revenge against his old team. Kris Bryant Watch can wait. The Cubs swear they’re not even paying attention.

[MORE CUBS: Can Jon Lester slow down Billy Hamilton?]

The Cubs left Denver to return home to the Wrigley Field construction zone, where the business-operations side had to bring in 72 porta-potties last week after the Opening Night bathroom lines became a national embarrassment.

It took less than five innings before the Boston/Bristol axis of media had Chicago reporters asking if Jon Lester has “the yips,” one start into a six-year, $155 million megadeal. It won’t get any easier with Cincinnati Reds speedster Billy Hamilton up next.

Bryant is still the trending topic, with the franchise’s hottest name and arguably most dangerous hitter stuck at Triple-A Iowa. Cubs fans will have to wait at least four more days as Bryant does his service-time penance before making his debut in The Show.

“That’s for them to keep talking about,” Fowler said. “That’s social media, man.”

[MORE CUBS: It's up to the union to change Cubs/Kris Bryant situation]

Bryant homered again during Iowa’s 7-2 win on Sunday at Memphis. As ex-Cubs manager Dale Sveum once said: “Those twits never lie.”

New Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who has 227,000 Twitter followers, made it sound like he didn’t know Bryant homered on Saturday night until a reporter mentioned it during his media session.

“Nice,” Maddon said. “Good for him.”

Maddon had to worry about Mike Olt, who got drilled in the wrist with a 96-mph fastball the night before but felt good enough to pinch-hit on Sunday afternoon. Tommy La Stella — another guy in the third-base mix until Bryant arrives — was unavailable with a strained “side” injury the Cubs left pretty vague.

“I don’t really pay attention to any of that (Bryant) stuff,” Maddon said. “I’ve talked about it before: My responsibility is the people right here, right now, and trying to piece it together.”

[MORE CUBS: Cubs see Dexter Fowler becoming the catalyst for their offense]

Maddon keeps stressing the idea that this isn’t about any one person, whether it’s Baseball America’s No. 1 prospect (Bryant) or a $52 million pitcher going to the bullpen (Edwin Jackson) or a No. 3 catcher waiting his turn (Welington Castillo).

The Cubs had been 0-79 when trailing entering the ninth inning in 2014. Castillo delivered a clutch two-out, pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth, setting the stage for Fowler’s heroics. Four relievers — Jason Motte, Phil Coke, Neil Ramirez and Hector Rondon — combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings to bail out Kyle Hendricks and shut down the Rockies (4-2).

“Honestly, I don’t think we win this last year,” Hendricks said. “(It’s) just the confidence factor, all the new guys coming in here with the winning attitude, the winning ways. These guys know how to win. And it just showed right there. I think there’s going to be a lot of those this year.”

The Cubs (3-2) hadn’t been above .500 since April 4, 2013. They were also a game over .500 by late April 2011. They never had a winning record at any point during the 2010, 2012 and 2014 seasons.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

But as another Cubs person pointed out: It’s never boring around here. Bryant as the headliner — and all the great expectations surrounding this team now — guarantees that.

“I’m really not paying attention to that,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “I’m paying attention to what we have right here. I know the kid is good. Don’t get me wrong. We’d like to see him in the big leagues. But right now, he’s not.

“I’ve got to care about these guys right now, because ... we got to get the best out of this (group). It’s not that I’m not rooting for him right now, but he’s not here. I can’t really focus on Double-A, Triple-A. I can’t be wasting energy on that.”

Bryant who?

“It was entirely a team victory,” Maddon said. “Our pitchers did a wonderful job of not caving in. And our offense did a wonderful job of just not giving up.

“I love when you win that kind of game, on the road, utilizing everybody. It’s really good for esprit de corps.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Bote’s wild ride and a huge test for Cubs pitchers

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki break down the Cubs’ series win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field, which capped off with yet another David Bote walk-off and a surprising performance from Tyler Chatwood. They also break down where this Cubs team is at as they get set to welcome the high-powered Dodgers offense into Chicago later in the week.

:30 – The Kelly Effect

1:00 – David Bote’s wild ride

2:00 – El Mago’s magic pays off for Cubs yet again

3:30 – Bote’s adjustments

6:40 – Chatwood’s big day

8:50 – What’s next for Chatwood?

10:10 – Lester’s return is right around the corner

11:30 – Cubs pitching firing on all cylinders

12:00 – Did Kap jinx Strop?

13:30 – Dodgers pose a big challenge for Cubs pitching staff

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

Add another chapter to David Bote's incredible story

David Bote had to be feeling like the luckiest guy on Earth.

The Cubs were humming along in their quickest game of the season and two outs away from a 1-0 victory on a picture-perfect Easter Sunday at Wrigley Field. That was good news for him, because he had a flight to catch — doctors were inducing his wife, Rachel, and she was going to be giving birth to their third child that night.

Then Bote watched as Arizona's light-hitting outfielder Jarrod Dyson — he of 16 homers in 744 career games coming into the afternoon — sent a Pedro Strop pitch into the right-field bleachers in the top of the ninth inning to extend the game.

So Bote took things into his own hands.

Javy Baez led off the Cubs' half of the ninth with a double down the right field line, advanced to third on an error and then Willson Contreras was plunked by Diamondbacks reliever Archie Bradley.

Up stepped Bote, who watched a curve for Ball 1 and then narrowly got out of the way of a 95 mph fastball ticketed for his left temple. Bradley came back with a curve for a strike and Bote knew what to look for, waiting on another curveball and hammering it through the drawn-in infield for the Cubs' 10th win of the season. 

Minutes later, Bote had bolted out of Wrigley Field, heading back home to Colorado for the birth of Baby No. 3.

Speaking of which, Bote's walk-off hit Sunday came exactly 36 weeks (a little over eight months) after his ultimate grand slam to beat the Washington Nationals...

"It's a grand slam baby and now it's another walk-off for him," teammate Anthony Rizzo joked.

This is just the latest chapter in the incredible story of Bote, an 18th-round draft pick who endured seven seasons in the minor leagues before being called up to the majors. He doesn't even have a full year of service time in "The Show" yet, but he's already proven he belongs and carved out a permanent spot on the roster before signing a 5-year, $15 million extension earlier this month.

"From the homer last year, there was a lot of pressure and he slowed everything down," Baez said. "He just keeps getting better and he knows he's got talent and he can do it. He's got a lot of confidence coming off the bench and he's been huge for this team."

This was Bote's 42nd career RBI and it was already his 4th walk-off RBI. That means nearly 10 percent of his career RBI have come via walk-off situation.

"It's nice. He's had experience early [in those situations]," Rizzo said. "You can't teach that. He's had a lot of situations like that and he's come through. It's fun to watch."

This was only the 10th start of the season for Bote in the Cubs' 20th game, but he's found a way to stay sharp. 

After his 2-hit game Sunday, he's now slashing .295/.380/.455 on the season and showing off the adjustments he's made after hitting just .176 with a .559 OPS after that ultimate grand slam last year.

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