Levine: Baker Shines On Wild Night At Wrigley
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(CBS) Cubs Backup catcher John Baker scored the winning run and became the first position player in team history to get a victory in relief as Chicago edged Colorado, 4-3, in 16 innings Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. The game lasted 6 hours, 27 minutes and was the longest time-wise in a Cubs history that dates back to 1876. The game time surpassed by 17 minutes the previous longest contest in franchise history on August 17-18, 1982.
Cubs manager Rickey Renteria used 22 players on his 25-man roster in the historic contest. Baker was the ninth Cubs pitcher used and extended the bullpen’s streak to 12 scoreless innings. Ineffective starter Edwin Jackson left the game early, going just four innings after giving up three runs in the first inning. Jackson ran his pitch count to 105 before leaving.
“It has been tough,” said Jackson, who is 0-3 with a 7.50 ERA in his six July starts “I knew I had thrown a lot of pitches, but I am accustomed to throwing a lot of pitches. I still felt pretty good and like (that) I was coming at hitters.”
Jackson is 13-29 as a Cub over two seasons with an ERA of 5.31. He was signed to a four-year, $52-million contract before the 2013 season, and since then, he has been the worst starting pitcher in baseball. Teams looking for starting pitching have traded for Jackson numerous times at past trade deadline situations, but with more than $30 million left on his contract, there will be no takers this time around.
Baker was the first Cubs position player to pitch since Joe Mather on Aug. 27, 2012. He is the first National League position player to win a game in relief since May 25, 2011, when Wilson Valdez of Philadelphia accomplished the feat.
“No matter how hard or soft I threw, it stayed between 67-76 miles per hour,” Baker said. “I was about 5 miles per hour below the hitting speed from straight pitches I was told.”
After getting Charlie Culberson to pop out to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Baker walked Drew Stubbs. Baler then Cristhian Adames to hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and set up the winning rally.
In the bottom of the 16th, it was once again was Baker who helped supply the magic. He walked to start the inning and eventually scored the winning run on Starlin Castro’s sac fly.
“I had to score,” Baker said. “I would have liked to hit my first home run in five years to win the game. I was happy to get a walk and have Starlin drive me in.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.