The Associated Press
CHICAGO–Alex Avila felt for Raffy Lopez. It was quite a day for catchers.
Avila capped Chicago’s three-run 10th inning with a two-run single as the Cubs swept the Toronto Blue Jays with a wild 6-5 victory yesterday afternoon.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Avila lined a base hit into right field against Roberto Osuna (3-4).
Ben Zobrist scored easily and Javier Baez slid in safely just ahead of the tag attempt by Lopez.
“The first pitch that I fouled off was a cutter in deep, and he tried to go back in there with another cutter and just kind of left it more middle of the plate,” Avila noted.
The improbable rally also included two batters reaching on swing-and-miss strikeouts and a wild pitch that scored Kyle Schwarber–all with Lopez behind the plate.
The 29-year-old catcher also got beat up by a couple of other balls in the inning.
“It is a tough one,” Lopez conceded. “You feel like it’s your fault.
“Sometimes the game gets the best of you.
“You’ve just got to bounce back. Just learn from it,” he stressed.
“I just have to respond.”
Toronto grabbed the lead with two runs in the top of the inning on Kevin Pillar’s RBI single off Koji Uehara and Norichika Aoki’s bases-loaded loaded walk against Justin Wilson (4-4).
But Osuna was handed his eighth blown save of the season.
“They’ve got the magic here. There’s no doubt about it,” said Jays’ manager John Gibbons.
Pillar also robbed Kris Bryant of extra bases with a spectacular leaping catch against the ivy-covered wall in centre in the seventh–drawing appreciative cheers from the crowd of 41,459 at Wrigley Field.
Albert Almora Jr. hit a three-run double for NL Central-leading Chicago, which completed its fifth three-game sweep of the season.
Kyle Hendricks allowed three runs and six hits in six innings.
“I do love that we don’t quit,” said manager Joe Maddon.
“We talk about it all the time. We do not quit.”
Chicago jumped in front on Almora’s big hit in the third.
But Toronto responded with single runs in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings, capped by Miguel Montero’s second homer since the Cubs traded the catcher to the Jays.
After Jose Bautista flied out to begin the sixth, Montero drove Hendricks’ next pitch over the wall in left-centre.
Montero helped Chicago win the World Series last year, but was designated for assignment on June 28 after he blamed pitcher Jake Arrieta for allowing seven stolen bases in a loss to Washington.
Montero and Arrieta quickly patched things up, and each side has said everything is fine.
“We’ve already been texting,” Hendricks said after allowing the homer to Montero.
“Those were just dumb pitches, honestly, bad pitches to him,” he noted.
“He’s a good hitter. He can hit mistakes.”
Toronto had an unusual look on the left side of its infield.
Regular third baseman Josh Donaldson made his first career start at shortstop while veteran outfielder Bautista began the game at third.
Donaldson played a total of three innings at shortstop in the first two games of the series.
Elsewhere in interleague play, Minnesota dumped Arizona 12-5 and Detroit beat the L.A. Dodgers 6-1.
Boston beat New York 5-1, L.A. nipped Baltimore 5-4, Tampa Bay blanked Seattle 3-0, Oakland edged Houston 3-2, Kansas City downed Cleveland 7-4, and Chicago shaded Texas 3-2 in AL action.
Over in the NL, Washington beat San Diego 4-1, Miami topped New York 6-4, Atlanta dumped Cincinnati 8-1, Milwaukee doubled Colorado 8-4, Philadelphia downed San Francisco 5-2, and Pittsburgh upended St. Louis 6-3.