Rockies advance as Cubs ousted in thriller
TONY Wolters drove in t he winning run as the Colorado Rockies won an extra-innings thriller to send the Chicago Cubs crashing out of the postseason with a 2-1 defeat in the National League wildcard game on Tuesday.
Wolters blasted an RBI single in the 13th inning at Wrigley Field to ensure the Rockies’ advance to a divisional series against the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday as the Cubs’ hopes of a second World Series in three years came to an abrupt end.
Wolters’ winning run was the final act of a gripping battle that ended just after midnight local time as the Wrigley Field crowd were left in stunned silence.
Both teams had ended up in the wild card game after blowing leads in their respective divisional races, before losing tiebreaker games on Monday.
The early exchanges of the contest were dominated by a classic pitcher’s battle between Cubs starter Jon Lester and Rockies counterpart Kyle Freeland.
A slow start from Lester saw Charlie Blackmon walked at the top of the first which was followed with DJ Le Mahieu’s double on a line drive to left centre field.
Blackmon then crossed home plate after Nolan Arenado’s sacr ifice fly put the Rockies ahead.
Thereafter, Lester and Freeland would dominate both line-ups with superb performances from the mound.
With Freeland withdrawn after six innings and two outs of the seventh inning, the Rockies survived a scare at the bottom of the seventh when a catcher’s interference call left reliever Adam Ottavino facing a bases loaded jam.
Ottavino extricated himself however when he got Cubs slugger Jason Heyward out swinging to preserve the Rockies’ slender lead.
But with the tension mounting, the Cubs hauled themselves back into the contest in the eighth inning.
Terrance Gore was the hero for the Cubs, making a crucial steal to put himself in scoring position at second, before Javier Baez lashed a double to left centre field for the tying run.
Yet the Cubs were unable to build on the momentum in the ninth after getting a man on base when Wilson Contreras was walked, sending it into extra innings.
With both teams burning through their pitching resources, the deadlock was broken in the 13th when Trevor Story reached third after Gerardo Parra’s line drive.
Wolters then stepped up to bludgeon a ground ball through the gap into right field to bring Story home for the winning run.
Reliever Scott Oberg then closed it out for the Rockies as Chicago’s season ended in bitter disappointment.
Tony Wolters of the Colorado Rockies hits a RBI single against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.