Blustery day goes Bote's way in Cubs' win

May 29th, 2021

CHICAGO -- Friday afternoon’s series opener, a 1-0 Chicago victory over Cincinnati, was just one of those days at Wrigley Field.

It was cold enough that the Cubs couldn’t fill up 60 percent of the park’s capacity, even on the first day it was allowed by the city. The wind was swirling in from Lake Michigan, knocking down any ball hit to right field and pushing away any ball hit to left.

“It was [as] windy as I've seen it playing here. That was one of the tougher winds,” Cubs third baseman said. “You've just gotta find a way to do it and you've got to find a way to play through it. Both teams are out there, and it's just part of it, so you just go embrace it and play.”

"You don’t really know what you’re going to get until you’re on the bus and you head by the lake on the way to the field,” Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “It was as rough as I’ve probably ever seen it, to be honest with you, and that’s never a good sign from a hitter’s perspective.”

Though he’s not known as the “magician” in Chicago, leave it to Bote to be the one to pull a rabbit out of his hat in the Cubs’ win.

Leading off the bottom of the fifth against Reds starter Vladimir Gutierrez (in his Major League debut), Bote took a high fastball and deposited his second homer in his past three games into the left-field corner to break a scoreless tie. The ball left Bote’s bat at 110.3 mph and would have been a home run in all 30 big league ballparks (per ESPN Stats & Info), yet it barely managed to land in the left-field basket.

“Even his, in the moment, felt like it took a left turn with the wind blowing and just got in the basket there,” Cubs manager David Ross said.

Bote said he didn’t see exactly where he’d hit the ball, because knowing how tough runs were to come by Friday, he just took off and had it in his mind to get as many extra bases as possible. He didn’t even know the ball was gone until he was about a step from second base.

“You can't try to hit homers when [the wind is] blowing out, you can't try to not hit homers when it's blowing in,” Bote said. “You just go up there and put [together] a good at-bat and hope for the best.”

The fact that Bote managed to hit one out, though, is especially impressive, considering what the wind took from some of his teammates.

In the bottom of the third, Joc Pederson hit a fly ball that, on a normal day, would’ve likely landed in the left-field bleachers. Friday wasn’t a normal day however, and the ball instead fell into Jesse Winker’s glove in the left-field corner.

In the eighth inning, Patrick Wisdom also got a hold of one that might’ve landed closer to the left-field scoreboard than the field of play on any other day. But he couldn’t beat the wind, either, and the ball fell to Winker on the warning track.

Fortunately for the Cubs, Bote’s blast defied Mother Nature. It proved to be the difference, as the Cubs got 5 2/3 scoreless innings from starter Adbert Alzolay and 3 1/3 more from their dominant bullpen to start the six-game homestand with a win.

“It's just one of those days, you think you're gonna have to play small ball, hit-and-run, steal some bags, bunt, move guys over, and then we end up winning by a homer, 1-0 today,” Ross said. “It's just like, that's this crazy game in Wrigley Field. That's just part of it.”