The Chicago Cubs defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-5 in a 15 inning contest Sunday afternoon.
Luckily for the Cubs, who find themselves in second in the NL Central, they have an off day on Monday.
The Cubs ended up needed every player on the team to contribute in some way on Sunday, even though Ben Zobrist opted pregame to take a seat.
After raw postseason exit interviews the Cubs decided that some consistency with their ever changing lineups was needed. After using over 150 different lineups last year, Joe Maddon decided to give his team some consistency with his lineups.
In the past, Maddon sent out his teams lineup the night before any game. Now, the forward thinker decided to send lineups out on a series-by-series basis. This of course can put the manager in a tough spot when a player goes 4-4 and is scheduled off the next day.
New father David Bote homered twice and drove in five in the Cubs win over the Diamondbacks on Saturday, but was scheduled to have Sunday’s rubber match off.
Pregame, Ben Zobrist visited his skipper, and asked for Bote to be in the lineup, even if it meant Zobrist won’t get the start. Maddon agreed, and started Bote at third base, and moved Kris Bryant to right field to take what would have been Zobrist’s position.
Bote promptly delivered and made the decision seem correct with an RBI double early in the marathon game.
“It was the right thing to do,” Zobrist said. “Frankly, there was a little bit of tension in my competitive heart. But it was the right thing to do.”
Zobrist did not stay on the bench for the whole game. The veteran leader broke the tie that stretched into the 15th inning with a two run double, his first extra base hit of the year. Zobrist later scored the Cubs’ sixth run by way of a Kris Bryant Sac-Fly and saved the game with a catch on the warning track to preserve a 6-5 win.
Maddon saw one of his veterans not only display an immense amount of leadership and unselfishness, but also saw that same player take care of business, and play the hero in the longest game of the season so far.
The Cubs take their 14-12 record to Seattle for a two game inter-league series with the Mariners.
Feature image by Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA