Cubs' comeback boosts belief in a big second half

Gomes' pinch-hit two-run single sparks Chicago's late six-run rally

July 9th, 2023

NEW YORK -- One thing can be said about the Cubs under manager David Ross: They don’t give up easily. Sunday afternoon provided proof of that, as they came back from a 4-1 deficit and defeated the Yankees, 7-4, at Yankee Stadium.

The Cubs took two out of three games from New York and finished the first half of the season with a 42-47 record. The victory helped further their belief that they still have a shot at going to the postseason. Chicago is currently seven games behind the Reds in the National League Central and 6 1/2 games behind the Giants for the third and final Wild Card Spot.

“It was a really nice team win that we needed going into the break,” said Ross, who was ejected in the first inning after home-plate umpire Alex MacKay invoked a pitch-timer violation on Kyle Hendricks during his warmup pitches. “These guys have fought really hard. The way we have come back here has really been impressive.

“We’re growing. Record wise, we are not there yet, but I think a lot of the underlying things that you can point to -- the culture, the way we see guys showing up. … [When] some things have gone our way, we pounce on it. That’s a sign of a good team. Taking advantage of other team’s mistakes. Being able to hold that lead today was important.”

Chicago started making its comeback in the seventh inning, when it initially looked as though the Yankees were going to have their way with first-half finale. New York right-hander Domingo Germán was cruising during the first six innings, allowing just one hit and striking out nine batters.

However, Germán was taken out of the game in the seventh after allowing a leadoff walk to Ian Happ.

Enter reliever Ian Hamilton.

After getting Seiya Suzuki to pop up to first baseman Anthony Rizzo, Hamilton allowed a single from Cody Bellinger to put runners on first and second. Christopher Morel then hit what looked like a routine double-play grounder to second baseman Gleyber Torres, who bobbled the ball for an error and loaded the bases. Tommy Kahnle then replaced Hamilton and Happ scored on a ground out by Jared Young to make it a two-run game.

Yan Gomes then came off the bench and slugged a pinch-hit two-run single to tie the game at 4.

“[The RBIs] were obviously big. You try not to do too much and help the team out in that sense. It works out when it falls in your favor,” Gomes said.

Chicago broke the tie in the following frame. With the bases loaded and no outs and right-hander Clay Holmes on the mound, Suzuki hit a sacrifice fly to right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, scoring Mike Tauchman and giving the Cubs a 5-4 lead.

Holmes then threw a wild pitch, which allowed Nico Hoerner to score. Tucker Barnhart added an RBI double in the ninth to give the Cubs some insurance.

Julian Merryweather, Michael Fulmer and Adbert Alzolay held the Yankees in check the rest of the way after Hendricks allowed four runs and struck out five in 5 2/3 innings.

Hendricks was dealing during the first five innings, but he lost his mojo in the sixth, allowing back-to-back home runs to Anthony Volpe and Kyle Higashioka to make it a 4-1 game. But Hendricks ended up with a no-decision.

Hendricks is the only member left from the 2016 World Series Championship club, and he is looking forward to the second half of the season.

“We are super excited,” Hendricks said. “Everybody talks about it. We are still close enough [in our division]. We have a chance. We are obviously taking this one day at a time. We can’t wait to get a few days off. We are excited to get back at it. This was a good way to end it and it will roll into the second half.”

That winning spirit comes from the top and it starts with Ross, according to Barnhart.

“We preach just being grinders and making things difficult on teams, and it starts at the top with David. It’s what he preaches,” Barnhart said. “This group is amazing. It’s so much fun to be around.”