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.
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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.”
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.”
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.
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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.”
“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.”