EditorsNote: Update 2: Adds quotes
Backup catcher Tony Wolters drilled a two-out, two-strike RBI single to center field to score Trevor Story with the eventual winning run in the 13th inning Tuesday night, and the Colorado Rockies outlasted the host Chicago Cubs 2-1 in the National League wild-card game.
By winning the longest winner-take-all playoff game in major league history, the Rockies earned the right to face the top-seeded Milwaukee Brewers in the best-of-five NL Division Series beginning Thursday in Wisconsin.
“This is going to go down as a classic, and it was great to be a part of,” Rockies manager Bud Black told ESPN.
Hours after starting pitchers Kyle Freeland and Jon Lester ended brilliant performances, the Rockies got consecutive two-out singles from Story, Gerardo Parra and Wolters in the 13th off Kyle Hendricks (0-1). The result was Colorado’s first postseason win since the 2009 NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies.
“I was trying to get something to get into the outfield,” Wolters told ESPN of his game-winning hit. “Saw a changeup. Hit it up the middle. Felt great. Great feeling right there.”
Scott Oberg, who went 8-1 in the regular season, got the win after entering the game with two outs and no one on base in the 12th. He struck out all four batters he faced, including going 1-2-3 in a 13th inning that included an overturn on a Rockies-requested review when Cubs leadoff man Terrance Gore had been ruled to have been hit by a pitch.
Shut out by Freeland for 6 2/3 innings and trailing 1-0 two outs into the eighth, the Cubs got a two-strike, RBI double from Javier Baez to draw even against Adam Ottavino after pinch runner Gore had stolen second.
Gore was running for Anthony Rizzo, whose two-out single had kept the inning alive.
Rockies closer Wade Davis came on to end the inning at 1-1 by striking out Albert Almora Jr. after Baez had stolen third.
Seven innings earlier, the Rockies needed just 13 pitches to score their only run of regulation play.
After Lester walked Charlie Blackmon on five pitches, DJ LeMahieu belted a ground-rule double into the ivy in left-center, sending Blackmon to third.
Nolan Arenado, who drove in 110 runs during the regular season, then delivered Blackmon with a deep sacrifice fly.
Lester stranded LeMahieu at third base, then allowed only three more hits — including doubles by Matt Holliday and Story — before leaving for a pinch hitter in the last of the sixth, still down just 1-0.
He was charged with one run on four hits in six innings. Lester struck out nine and walked one.
“It wasn’t like we beat ourselves,” Lester said. “Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the opponent. But I feel like we should have won that game.”
Freeland, meanwhile, allowed just one Cub to reach scoring position before leaving two outs into the seventh inning. He surrendered four hits and one walk while striking out six.
Ian Happ got to second in the sixth inning on a walk and a one-out single by Kris Bryant. However, Freeland got Rizzo to ground into a double play, ending the threat.
Ottavino took over two outs into the seventh inning with Almora aboard following a single.
The Cubs loaded the bases on a walk and a catcher’s interference, but Ottavino struck out pinch hitter Jason Heyward to retain the 1-0 lead.
“We’ve played that game a lot,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We’ve been fighting with this. We had some opportunities. Just couldn’t cash in. They pitched pretty well, too. Left too much chicken on the bone.”
Story finished with three hits for the Rockies, who won nine of 10 to end the regular season before falling 5-2 to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West tiebreaker game on Monday.
Almora had two of just six hits for the Cubs, who were appearing in the postseason for the fourth consecutive season.
“We played our hearts out,” Rizzo said. “It was a game obviously where the offense didn’t live up to its hype.”
—Field Level Media