Last night, the Chicago Cubs made history, in more ways than one; and not by winning a simple game. Last night, John Baker became a Cubs hero, and a Cubs legend.
The game started off as you would imagine an Edwin Jackson start to go. He gives the Colorado Rockies a three run lead in the first inning and leans on his offense to bail him out; which Emilio Bonifacio did by smacking a game tying two run homer in the fourth inning. That would be the last time either team would score for about four hours.
You read that right, four hours from the game tying homer off of the bat of Bonifacio until the Cubs finally won in the 16th inning.
Four hours over 12 innings of play sounds about right, averaging one hour per three innings of play. What does not sound right is taking two hours to cover the first four innings of play.
Jackson, along with Jorge de la Rosa threw 117 pitches combined in the first three innings. Not only did they both throw a ton of pitches, they both took an enormous amount of time between pitches which only helped make the game draw on and on.
Jackson wound up throwing over 100 in his four innings of work before being pulled for a pinch hitter, Travis Wood. Perhaps the game would have ended sooner if Rick Renteria had used an actual hitter in the fourth, but then Baker would never have been the hero or legend he is today.
Through the remaining 12 innings, the Cubs burned through every relief pitcher they had, except for Hector Rondon who was completely unavailable. They pitched well though, blanking the Rockies for 12 innings.
What helped set up Baker to be the hero, was Renteria once again using a pitcher as a pinch hitter in the 13th inning, Jake Arrieta. That left one hitter on the bench, and that man was Baker.
Once the Cubs failed to score in the 15th inning, Renteria had no choice, and went to his secret weapon to pitch the 16th. Baker took the mound, following the lead of the other seven bullpen arms and pitched a scoreless inning. Great job by the backup catcher blanking the Rockies.
But it gets better.
In the bottom of the 16th, after the Cubs used a position player to pitch, the Rockies used starting pitcher Tyler Matzek. Stepping up to the plate with fans chanted his name “Ba-ker! Ba-Ker! Ba-Ker” you knew there was magic in the early morning air. With the crowd fully behind him after a great pitching performance in the top half of the inning Baker stepped up to the plate and drew the leadoff walk to lead off the inning. Bonifacio moved him up with a sacrifice bunt, Arismendy Alcantara got hit by a pitch, and Anthony Rizzo got a single to load the bases with one out. Starlin Castro hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Baker to win the game and end the record setting game.
Last nights game was the longest in Cubs franchise history at six hours and 27 minutes. Baker also set history becoming the first Cubs position player since 1902 to earn win as a pitcher.
John Baker ladies and gentlemen. A true Cubs hero, and legend.