Chicago Cubs Score and Recap (6/12/24): Cubs 4, Rays 3 – Heart-Attack Héctor Hangs on This Time

The Cubs held yet another narrow lead going into the 9th inning on Wednesday night. Once again, Héctor Neris was on the mound attempting to nail down the save against the same portion of the Rays lineup that rallied to beat him on Tuesday. Fortunately for Chicago, their stocky closer was able to retire the previous night’s hero, Brandon Lowe, for the final out to escape with a stressful one-run victory.

Tampa went ahead in the 3rd inning against Javier Assad when light-hitting shortstop Taylor Walls walked, stole second, and scored on a double by Isaac Paredes. Seiya Suzuki immediately tied the score in the next frame when he hit a solo home run to center off of Aaron Civale.

The Rays wasted no time answering right back when Jose Siri crushed an Assad pitch for a long homer to left to lead off the bottom of the 4th. Both teams had scoring chances but it remained 2-1 into the 7th inning.

In that frame, Christopher Morel singled and pinch-hitter Patrick Wisdom was hit by a pitch to put two on with two out for Cody Bellinger. During the at-bat, the runners pulled a double steal when lefty reliever Garrett Cleavinger was focused on the batter. The dual theft ended up being unnecessary as Bellinger cracked a go-ahead three-run shot to right center to give the North Siders a 4-2 advantage.

Drew Smyly tossed two perfect innings of relief before handing things over to heart-attack Héctor. José Caballero whacked a solo home run with one out, followed by a single and a walk to put the winning tally on base. Neris managed to pull his Houdini act again, picking up a ground out and a fly out to survive with a 4-3 win. (Box score)

Key Moment

The Cubs have struggled mightily with runners in scoring position during their month-long slump, so it was huge for Bellinger to get that home run and give the bullpen a little more cushion.

Why the Cubs Won

They hit two home runs and the bullpen, especially Smyly and Tyson Miller, pitched well after Assad had a pretty short outing.

Stats That Matter

  • Assad needs to tighten up the walks and hit batters because he doesn’t strike out enough hitters to overcome free baserunners: 4.2 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 4 K, and 2 BB.
  • Suzuki is looking a lot more like the hitter he was late last season and to start this season.
  • Michael Busch collected two more hits and quietly has put up pretty good numbers lately.

Bottom Line

The Cubs don’t have a ton of bullpen options but they might think about taking Neris out of the closer role. He gives up baserunners almost every outing and even though he is getting out of a lot of these jams, there will be more outings like Tuesday if it keeps up like this. Mark Leiter Jr. deserves a look because it can’t be any more stress-inducing than what we’ve seen lately.

On Deck

The rubber match of the series is Thursday night at 5:50pm CT. Chicago starts Justin Steele and Tampa counters with Taj Bradley in a game available on MLB Network (out of market only), Marquee, and 670 The Score.

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