Yan Gomes’ singular focus centered on hitting the ball in the air.
A double steal by Dansby Swanson and Ian Happ put runners on second and third for Gomes in the top of the ninth inning Monday night at Coors Field with the Chicago Cubs trying to erase the Colorado Rockies’ one-run lead.
Gomes saw three straight low sliders from the Rockies’ newly appointed closer Tyler Kinley before smacking a high fastball into center field for the go-ahead two-run single. The Cubs survived an adventurous outing in the bottom of the ninth from Michael Fulmer, who recovered from a one-out walk and hit batter to strike out the next two batters to secure the 5-4 victory.
“You try to simplify it as much as you can,” Gomes said. “I thought I took a good swing at the (1-1) slider, realized I was on it and then after that you’re just trying to not do too much, just try to put the ball into the outfield and at least score one.”
Nick Madrigal’s RBI single in the third off Rockies starter Kyle Freeland tied the game. Two innings later, Christopher Morel slugged a 466-foot solo home run to center field to put the Cubs ahead. They added another run on Gomes’ sixth-inning single.
With Adbert Alzolay going on the 15-day injured list Monday and Julian Merryweather unavailable after pitching the previous three days, manager David Ross turned to José Cuas and Drew Smyly in high-leverage spots.
Cuas struck out Kris Bryant and Ryan McMahon to begin the seventh but quickly ran into trouble. The next four Rockies reached — single, hit batter, double and single — to turn the Cubs’ two-run lead into a one-run deficit. Smyly entered with a runner on first and ended the frame by striking out Charlie Blackmon. Ross stuck with Smyly, who didn’t allow a run in 1 2/3 innings with three strikeouts.
“It’s a different mentality when you’re in the ’pen, you can go right to your strengths, your best stuff and it’s just this is my best pitch, this is my strength, if you hit it, you hit it, that type of thing,” Smyly said.
“As a reliever, it’s nice and exciting to come in late in the game and be able to be really aggressive with your best pitch.”
Jordan Wicks held the Rockies to one run and three hits in six innings. Wicks started his big-league career by allowing two earned runs or fewer in each of his first four starts, the first Cubs starter to do that was Juan Cruz (also four) from Aug. 21-Sept. 5, 2001.