On June 6, 2018, the Cubs found themselves trailing by two runs in the 9th inning to the Philadelphia Phillies for the first time in the game, after a rough top half of the inning. The Cubs put runners on first and third with one out. The Phillies made a pitching change and brought in left-handed reliever Adam Morgan. After walking Ian Happ to load the bases, Morgan got Ben Zobrist to tap into a force out at home.
In steps Jason Heyward with two outs and the bases loaded. Being in a lefty-lefty situation, Heyward had his work cut out for him. At the time, he was batting only .139 against left-handed hurlers. He battled. He worked the count to 2-2. Then, Heyward absolutely unloaded and launched a walf-off grand slam deep into the bleachers in right field. It was a very memorable moment at Wrigley Field, and one of the biggest hits of Heyward’s career in a Cubs uniform.
Heyward went on to have hits in each of his next four games, including three of those being of the multi-hit variety. The Cubs also won three of those four games.
J-Hey made his return to the Cubs’ lineup last night against the Giants and went 0-for-4 with a punch out. However, in his first at-bat, he hit the third-hardest ball of the game with a 103.9 mph lineout to third base. Heyward suffered a hamstring strain after making a sliding catch against the Washington Nationals on May 19, which forced him to exit and head to the Injured List. Prior to the injury, Heyward was off to a slow start, batting only .183 with a .595 OPS.
The Cubs have been riddled with injuries, so getting Heyward back should be big for the team. Maybe the time off helped him reset a little bit, as we’ve seen be the case with someone like Joc Pederson when he returned from an IL stint.
The Cubs need J-Hey to produce. He did launch a home run in one of his rehab starts at Triple-A Iowa. It’s difficult to be thrust back into the lineup against Kevin Gausman, a pitcher who ranks third in the majors with a 1.27 ERA. Let’s see how he does today against Johnny Cueto, and moving forward. Lifetime versus Cueto, Heyward is 7-for-22 with two homers, two doubles, and a .318 batting average.
Key Draft Picks
Not to be overshadowed by Heyward’s big day, some other very important things happened on this day. On June 6, 2011, the Chicago Cubs drafted Javier Baez in the first round with the ninth overall pick. Javy continues to live up to his nickname as El Mago. The human highlight reel gets it done in unheard of ways. While he leads the Cubs in home runs (14), runs batted in (39), and steals (nine), he’s striking out at a league-leading clip (37.4 percent).
That’s just Javy being Javy. He’s always chased and struck out more than the average player, but he remains a key cog in the wheel. The two-time All Star and 2018 MVP runner up was absolutely one of Cubs’ best draft selections ever.
Remember when Kris Bryant was the most looked-forward to prospect in the Cubs’ farm system? I do. Remember when Kris Bryant won Rookie of the Year in 2015 and MVP in 2016? I do. Remember when the Cubs drafted him in 2013? I do. It was on this date in 2013.
The Cubs selected KB second overall and since then, he’s been exactly what they had hoped for and much more. Bryant currently sits fifth in the majors in wRC+ (167) and OPS (.985). It’s hard to measure exactly how valuable he is to the Cubs, but he’s currently in the running for MVP once again. He plays just about every position on the diamond. I don’t know what else to say. Jed Hoyer, please, extend KB!
The Cubs finish their four-game series with the Giants on Sunday, as Cueto squares off against Kyle Hendricks. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05 PM CDT. A win to close the series would be massive as the Cubs travel to San Diego to begin a three-game set with the Padres on Monday.