Walks Do Sox in at Wrigley

July 1

According to Twitter, last month was tied for the fifth-best win percentage in any calendar month in team history with July 2011, when that team also went 20-6. This month will really test the team’s mettle and may have major implications in a couple of months. Of the 27 games to be played in July, 17 games are against the AL East. This could make or break the season in the end. Adrian Sampson pitches for the Cubs against Hill, who started his career in Chicago in 2005. Duran wastes no time whatsoever, launching the very first pitch of the afternoon beyond the ivy and into the grass in center. His first homer of the year makes it 1-0 Sox. The Sox have now hit Sampson for ten homers in seven innings pitched over the course of his career with various teams. The Sox put runners at the corners with one out later in the inning, but a double play ends the inning as the Cubs keep the inning from becoming a disaster. A double to left puts a runner at second with two out in the bottom of the inning, but a strikeout ends the inning. The Sox load the bases with nobody out in the top of the second, and then Jackie Bradley Junior clears them with a double to the alley to score Story, Cordero, and Vázquez and make it 4-0 as Bradley gets out of his slump. Sampson has always had major issues when it comes to the Red Sox. A groundout moves Bradley to third with two out before a strikeout ends the inning.

In the bottom of the third, Hill trips coming off the mound and shovels the ball over to Cordero at first in time for the out. Forty-two is old for a baseball player, but you can’t say that 42-year old doesn’t come into work and put his all into it! I’m sure some people fifteen years his junior couldn’t pull that off. Hill breezes through the first four innings, the first-inning double being his one blemish, but after a walk leads off the bottom of the fifth, Velázquez triples to deep center to score Higgins and make it 4-1. He scores as well on a groundout to make it 4-2. The Cubs load the bases with two out later in the inning, a concerning sign because Hill came down awkwardly on his right leg after a pitch earlier in the frame and has gone from almost perfect to allowing two runs and putting the tying run on in the same inning. He is pulled in favor of Danish at this point. It is revealed later that he sprained his knee. A walk scores Contreras and makes it 4-3 before a fly out ends the inning, a scary one for Sox fans. Ortega makes a sliding catch in center for the first out of the top of the sixth, but the Sox load with two out later in the inning. Story scores on a Duran single to center to make it 5-3. Vázquez tries to score as well but is thrown out at the plate to end the inning. This is absolutely an acceptable exchange for the Cubs.

With a runner at first and two out in the bottom of the inning, Morel drives a homer to left to tie it at 5-5. It is his eighth of the year. After a walk, a double to right by Happ puts two men in scoring position. All of this is with two out. A walk loads the bases, and Cora goes back to the bullpen. It seems not to matter, as Diekman unleashes a wild pitch to bring home the go-ahead run as the Cubs lead for the first time at 6-5. A walk loads the bases again, which makes seven walks in the last two innings for Boston, not counting the hit batter. A strikeout ends the inning at last. Higgins leads off the bottom of the seventh with a double down the right-field line. A walk puts two on with one out, but a double play ends the inning. A runner is at second with one out in the bottom of the eighth after an error, but he is stranded. Cubs win, 6-5, but had Hill stayed in or the Sox not issued walks left and right, they might have won. This makes me worry about the rest of the month!