Cubs

Was this the craziest game of the MLB season?

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Was this the craziest game of the MLB season?

From Comcast SportsNet
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Elvis Andrus and the Texas Rangers were not going to let the Angels beat them again -- even if they needed two improbable comebacks to win. Andrus had a game-ending two-run single in the 10th inning, and the Rangers rallied from six runs down to beat Los Angeles 11-10 on Wednesday night. "Our mentality was to win no matter what," said Andrus, who went 4 for 6 with three RBIs. "It was a great game for us." The Rangers came into this four-game series leading the Angels by five games in the American League West. Los Angeles won the first two games of the series by a combined 21-10 and were on its way to three in a row. Texas was down 7-1 in the fifth before rallying to force extra innings. The Angels scored three in the 10th inning to take a 10-7 lead before the wild finish to a game that lasted 4 hours, 1 minute. The Rangers extended their lead in the American League West to four games over the Angels and 4 12 over third-place Oakland. "We kept battling, we kept grinding and we got blessed," Texas manager Ron Washington said. Nelson Cruz homered, and Mitch Moreland singled off Jason Isringhausen (3-1) to bring the Rangers to 10-9. With the bases loaded, Andrus drove a single past third baseman Alberto Callaspo to set off a wild celebration near second base. "It was a crazy game in Texas," Isringhausen said. "I've seen a lot of them. A six-run lead is not safe." The comebacks seemed unlikely because the Texas offense struggled mightily during a 9-14 July. The Rangers scored 81 runs in the month, last in the American League. It was only the second time in Texas history the club has rallied to win after trailing by at least three in extra innings. The Rangers also did it May 18, 1975, against Detroit. "It was great to break out like this," said Texas second baseman Ian Kinsler, who homered in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game at 7. "Hopefully we can take that into (Thursday)." Albert Pujols connected twice for his second straight multihomer game. His second home run, a two-run shot in the 10th, was one of four long balls hit between the two teams in the final two innings. Chris Iannetta also homered in the 10th for the Angels. Joe Nathan (2-3) gave up Iannetta's homer on a full-count pitch and Pujols' two-run drive but still earned the win. It was Pujols' 44th multihomer run of his career, third-most among active players. He had never had consecutive multihomer games in the regular season. Kinsler's solo shot off Ernesto Frieri with one out in the ninth forced extra innings. It was Frieri's first blown save in 13 chances. "It was a great, great game on both sides," Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said. "We got their closer, and they got our closer. It was a lot of fun. But at the same time, it broke my heart." Cruz kept the Rangers within a run in the top of the ninth when he threw out Kendrys Morales trying to score on a single to right. New acquisition Ryan Dempster will take the mound for the Rangers on Thursday night as they look to split the series against their rivals. He will face left-hander C.J. Wilson, who left Texas as a free agent in the offseason. "It was a great team effort from top to bottom," Texas' Michael Young said. "It was definitely a great win for us." Pujols had four RBIs to give him 1,400 for his career. Hunter and Callaspo each added two RBIs for Los Angeles. Yu Darvish started for the Rangers and equaled his season-high by allowing seven runs and walking six over five innings. Garrett Richards, who was starting in place of an ailing Dan Haren, gave up five runs and nine hits before he was chased with two outs in the sixth. The Angels led 7-1 before the Rangers rallied with four in the fifth and one in the eighth. David Murphy, who was 3 for 3 and reached base five times, had an RBI single in the eighth that closed the gap to 7-6. This was Texas' largest comeback since a six-run rally Aug. 13, 2010, against the Red Sox. The Angels scored six runs on only two hits in their third-inning outburst. They benefited from four walks, an error and Darvish's poor throw on a fielder's choice as 10 men came to the plate. Pujols lined a 1-1 pitch from Darvish into the Angels bullpen -- the first hit for Los Angeles in the game -- to make it 4-0. After two more walks in the third, Callaspo doubled in a pair to make it 6-0. NOTES: Rangers right-hander Neftali Feliz underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Wednesday. Team physician Dr. Keith Meister performed the operation. .... With temperatures over 100 degrees, the Angels limited their pregame work outside. Manager Mike Scioscia said his players only spent about 25 minutes outside taking fielding and batting practice, which is about 20 minutes less than average. ... After three games batting fifth, Rangers CF Josh Hamilton was moved in the third slot Wednesday and went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts.

'Season-defining win'? Cubs are here for it

'Season-defining win'? Cubs are here for it

Smiling came easy for Anthony Rizzo as stood at his locker and fielded questions in a robin-egg blue T-shirt that read: "positive vibes."

This was roughly a half-hour after he went through the high-five line telling all his teammates the 12-11 victory was a "season-defining win" for the Cubs.

Who knows if it will really be that big of a "W" for this ballclub in the midst of what has been an up-and-down season to this point, but there has certainly been no shortage of positive vibes around the clubhouse lately.

One thing's for certain: The Cubs will wake up Thursday morning in sole possession of first place again as the Cardinals lost to the Brewers in a rain-shortened game in St. Louis.

Yu Darvish and the Cubs bullpen squandered a 6-2 lead and then a 10-9 lead. Yet the offense picked up the slack, smacking 14 hits, including Kris Bryant's game-winning two-run blast in the bottom of the eighth inning.

"We haven't won a game like that really all year, I don't think," Rizzo said. "They scored 9 runs in the fifth to seventh innings. Teams don't really win when that happens. Just a good, hard-fought, never-quit win."

Rizzo is right: The Cubs haven't won a game in which they allowed at least 11 runs since Sept. 2, 2017 when they beat the Braves 14-12.

The Cubs have claimed 14 of 17 games at home since the All-Star Break and are now 43-19 at Wrigley Field this season - a winning percentage approaching .700 to combat the .390 winning percentage on the road.

So is it a season-defining victory?

"That's what Rizz told me," Bryant said. "We were high-fiving there and Rizz told me this is a season-defining win. I mean, I can't disagree with him. It's one of those games where you don't feel like you're gonna win just because you take a lead and then you're giving it back, but we came out on top. 

"Definitely some good momentum. We're playing good at home here, obviously and just gotta roll with the records at home and on the road."

Early on, it looked to be a night where the Cubs would cruise to victory behind Darvish, who came into the game red-hot and had settled into a rhythm after serving up a two-run shot to the third hitter of the game.

But that wasn't the case, as Darvish served up four homers overall and Derek Holland and Tyler Chatwood combined to allow 4 runs while notching just two outs as the first arms out of the bullpen.

Before the game, Joe Maddon talked again about how he felt like the only way the Cubs would be able to pull away in a tight NL Central race would be if the offense got into a groove and for one day at least, they were certainly firing on all cylinders.

The only starter who didn't reach base safely at least twice was Kyle Schwarber, and he drove in 3 runs on a homer and a groundout in which he hustled down the line to avoid a double play. Darvish even chipped in with an RBI single in the second inning.

Yes, it was a good win. Yes, the Cubs can go to sleep feeling content and wake up feeling hopeful.

But the only way this becomes a "season-defining win" is if the next five weeks play out like they hope. There have been several wins before Wednesday that seemed like they could propel the Cubs - including the finale in Cincinnati on the last road trip where Bryant once again came through with a clutch late homer. And every time, the team failed to keep the good times rolling for an extended period.

This is all a moot point if the Cubs come out and look flat this weekend or fail to carry any momentum onto the road.

"We'll find out," said Maddon, who has been in this game for nearly four decades. "I mean, I've been involved in those seminal moments and all of a sudden, things switch. 

"I'll tell you one thing though - I liked the method at the plate. Nobody was grinding sawdust; everybody was up there nice and chill and were getting good hacks on good pitches. ... I liked that. That's what we need to get to that point."

Willson Contreras progressing, but still no timeline for return to Cubs

Willson Contreras progressing, but still no timeline for return to Cubs

Before the Cubs hosted the San Francisco Giants on Day 2 of American Legion Week, Willson Contreras was out in left field running and working out his injured right hamstring.

The All-Star catcher hit the injured list earlier this month after hitting a line drive to the gap against the Milwaukee Brewers. 

That was two-and-a-half weeks ago and the Cubs initially tabbed the Grade-2 hamstring strain as a roughly four-week timeline. But team president Theo Epstein said Wednesday Contreras is not nearing a rehab stint.

"He's in what our trainers are calling the aggressive strengthening phase of his rehab, which is building up the hamstring strength now that he's gotten through the initial injury," Epstein said. "Always what comes with that is the strength deficit that you have to really be mindful of building back up so that you don't risk reinjuring it when you get back to full baseball activities. 

"You're gonna see him on the field a lot more over the next few days and hopefully soon he'll be progressing to baseball activities. He's not on the cusp of starting a rehab assignment or anything like that. He hasn't really progressed to baseball activities yet, so that will be the next step."

The minor-league season wraps up in the first couple days of September, so Contreras won't have much of an opportunity to get game at-bats and innings at catcher if he isn't able to head on a rehab stint soon.

But the Cubs won't rush it with one of their most important players. Contreras was hitting .275 with 19 homers, 57 RBI and an .890 OPS in 87 games before the injury.

In his absence, the Cubs have been pretty well covered with Victor Caratini and Jonathan Lucroy splitting duties behind the dish.

Lucroy - acquired Aug. 8 after being released by the Los Angeles Angels - is hitting .333 with a .798 OPS in 7 games and has impressed with his work as a game-caller and veteran presence. Caratini continues to put up quality at-bats while building on his breakout campaign.