After an extra inning game the hope is for your starter to go deep into the ball game the next day...especially with a quick afternoon turnaround the following afternoon. Nico Hoerner's first career walk-off in the bottom of 10 Monday night in front of 26,766 gave the Cubs the first win of the three game series with the Seattle Mariners and a chance to win their second straight series with a victory last night. The stage was set for Cubs starter Hayden Wesneski versus Mariners starter Chris Flexen. Neither made it past the third inning.
Wesneski had a few good spring training starts (two against Seattle) where his command was A1. In his eighth MLB appearance, there was a lack of command from the jump even though it looked like the Mariners hitters were having a hard time picking up his pitches. On a great 76 degree hitters night with the wind blowing out to center, the M's wasted no time getting down to business.
Cubs killer Eugenio Suarez (30 career HRs against the Cubs) got Seattle started with a two run job in the top of the first and the M's added five more in the top of the second to take a 7-1 lead heading to the top of the third. Wesneski's evening ended early only going 1.1 innings while allowing five hits and seven runs. He walked four and didn't register a strikeout on 64 pitches. (2 Cubs errors in the top of the second didn't help Wesneski either)
"Walks are gonna kill me in this scenario especially with Wrigley. But walks are gonna kill you anywhere," said Wesneski. "Then you go walk, bloop, single then some real damage, they start cashing in some runs. U feel like you let the team down and you feel like you set your team up for a loss in the second inning."
Luckily for Wesneski, the Cubs showed that fight that manager David Ross has stressed from the jump. They bounced right back with a run in the bottom of the second and an eight piece spicy in the bottom of the third. A Trey Mancini two run home run, an Eric Hosmer RBI single and a Dansby Swanson RBI single energized that Cub offense and Nelson Velazquez capped it off with his first career grand slam to put them on top 9-7 en route to a 14-9 victory.
Nelson Velazquez greeted by teammates after his grand slam (Photo by John L. Alexander/The Bigs Visuals)
Velazquez had an impressive evening going 3-4 scoring three runs and driving in four. "Nelson had phenomenal at bats. That's as good as I've seen him. You could tell his game elevated with the experience he gained last year, the off-season work he put in and swinging the bat well down in Iowa and it just translated to a lot of confidence in himself and really nice at bats," said Ross.
The Mariners sent ten batters to the plate in their five run second. The Cubs sent thirteen in their eight run third. The Cubs outscored the Mariners 14-2 after Seattle took a 7-1 lead going into the top of the third.
"Feeling this group and their energy you know. I went out there and took the ball from Hayden and you could really feel just like I thought we were gonna get to their guy. I thought we would have good at bats," Ross said.
Get to their guy is an understatement. Mariners starter Chris Flexen lasted an inning longer than Wesneski but got touched up a bit more. Cubs hitters tapped him for eight runs on ten hits (two HRs) in 2.1 innings. Flexen fell to 0-2 with an 8.74 ERA on the young season.
"That's a nice character win," Ross added. "That's a fun one...that's a big one. It's a really nice win. I haven't been part of one of those in a long time. We needed that. You start having these types of wins throughout the year, good things happen cuz you build that confidence. You're in close games, you don't give away at bats early, the pitcher doesn't have his night and the offense picks him up. That's a sign of a good team."
Dansby Swanson was 4-4 with 2 RBI before he left the game in the sixth inning with lower left side tightness. "Just some cramping. He was at the hospital all day. His wife had surgery today so it was just a long day for him. His body was shutting down on him a lil bit so we'll get some fluids in him and see how he feels in the morning," Ross said.
Swanson's wife Mallory is a star forward for the US Women's National Soccer Team. She suffered a torn patella tendon in her left knee this past Saturday in a match against Ireland. She had successful knee surgery yesterday morning and Swanson was there by her side. He said his day started at 4 am. "It's been a long few days and today was an exceptionally long day as well so yeah I was pretty spent," he said. "Realistically I felt like my body was just done. I just felt like the night was over for me. Pretty simple. Probably haven't eaten or slept or drank enough water for the past few days. Probably start getting a lot of fluids in me and take care of myself."