Cubs forgo bunt in deciding 10th inning
CHICAGO -- The Cubs had runners at first and second and nobody out in the 10th inning of a scoreless game against the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Dexter Fowler, who didn't start because of a sprained left ankle, was called on to pinch-hit. Most of the 36,799 at Wrigley Field probably expected him to bunt.
Manager Joe Maddon chose his words carefully, even admitting to checking the pronounciation before he used it.
"We eschewed the bunt in the 10th inning," Maddon said. "We refrained from the bunt throughout the inning."
Maddon wanted Fowler to win the game with a hit, but he drew a walk to load the bases. One out later, against a five-man infield, Chris Denorfia hit a sacrifice fly to center to give the Cubs a 1-0 victory over the Dodgers.
Kenley Jansen was on the mound for the Dodgers. Denorfia is 1-for-11 lifetime against the right-hander.
"I was looking for a punchout from Kenley," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "We got the first out we needed, Denorfia is a ground-ball guy, so we went with the five-man infield."
"It's a situation where I know all I need to do is hit a fly ball," Denorfia said. "I tried to just take a deep breath and not try to do too much and just get a ball up in the zone."
It worked, and the Cubs posted their Major League-leading ninth walk-off win. It's their most in a single season since they totaled nine in 2011.
Maddon had talked to Fowler before his at-bat. Even though Fowler couldn't run, he was definitely not up there to bunt.
"A lot of people would've been satisfied with the bunt," Maddon said. "I'm not going to have him bunt, second and third, and give up an out when he can drive in the winning run right there."
Fowler turned his ankle Monday night and was given a break from the starting lineup Tuesday.
Denorfia notched his fourth career walk-off RBI and first since July 29, 2013, while he was with the Padres playing against the Reds. Denorfia has been getting more playing time with Jorge Soler on the disabled list. He knows his role, but as far as the Cubs are concerned, he's as valuable as every one else on the 25-man roster.
"You're looking at a team coming together, and that has been together," Denorfia said. "There are no individuals in this locker room. We all know what we're playing for."