Just 14 miles south of Alfonso Rivas’ hometown, the Chicago Cubs needed a key hit from the 25-year-old first baseman.
If Rivas felt pressure to play in front of family and friends at Petko Park this week, he certainly didn’t show it.
A day after hitting a two-run homer, Rivas had a chance to give the Cubs a win in Wednesday’s series finale as the bullpen squandered a late lead. Rivas hit a double in the eighth to break the tie. Two saves from right-hander Rowanwick ensured the Cubs won 7-5.
The Cubs took two out of three in San Diego, their first series win since the weekend against the Milwaukee Brewers. Manager David Rose praised Rivas’ approach.
“He handled the moment really well,” Rose said. “His demeanor is so calm and that’s why he looks so fluid in the box at first. He doesn’t swing much. He just wants to put the barrel on the ball.”
However, the Cubs seem to be unable to avoid injury lately. Left-handed reliever Sean Newcomb became the 13th player on the injured list on Wednesday, with a sprained left ankle during outfield batting practice on Sunday.
Losing shortstop Nico Hoerner for any notable time is hard to overcome, especially on the defensive end. Horner was diagnosed with a right ankle sprain after exiting the game in the second half of the second inning. Initial imaging did not show any fractures, although the swelling around his ankle must be reduced before the Cubs can determine the severity. Ross believes Horner will be fine after a few days off.
Hoerner collided with second base umpire Dan Iassogna on Jurickson Profar’s 3-pointer in the first inning.
Horner moved to the right at the hit and started running to his position as the interceptor, while Assonia started moving toward the shallow centerline to get a clearer view of Jason Hayward’s possession. Iassogna and Hoerner never saw each other while watching the ball, causing their feet to tangle and knock them to the ground.
Yasonia said through a billiard reporter that his collision with Horner was the first time in his career that it happened in the outfield. Assonia’s assignment as second base umpire requires him to walk toward the fly ball so he can determine if it’s a catch, a home run, or anything in between.
He spoke with Rose to find out how Horner was doing and plans to check on him after the game. Iassogna hopes Hoerner won’t be on the injured list for this game.
“I always try to do the same thing. I see the ball and try to catch the fielder,” Assonia said. “When I first looked, I didn’t see anyone. I thought I had an open path and then we supported each other.
“I didn’t know who it was or what happened until I looked down and it was him.”
Hoerner initially stayed in the game, striking out at the top of the second quarter. When the Cubs got back on the court at the end of the game, Ildemaro Vargas replaced him. Horner wasn’t optimistic at first when the injury struck, but after receiving treatment for his ankle during the game, he felt better.
“In transitions and things like that, sometimes we’re in a different place than what people are used to,” Horner said. “I was looking at the ball like a referee and before I really knew what was going on, I was down on the ground. We were doing our jobs and sometimes weird things happened.”
Willson Contreras’ strong start continued in the first inning with a home run on the opposite side. The Cubs played in the third quarter thanks to Patrick Westdom (RBI singles), Frank Schwindel (2 doubles, 11 at-bats) and Jason Hayward (RBI singles) Four-point starter Nick Martinez.
Homers by Eric Hosmer and Luke Voight, the latter’s second of the game, in the seventh set up the need for Rivas to slam in the next inning.
“You have a plan, you have a method and stick to it, don’t really freak out,” Rivas said. “That’s what I really wanted to hammer out, and I got a good pitch.”
Keegan Thompson got a call at around 11 p.m. Tuesday and learned that he was preparing for the Cubs’ bullpen game. He sticks to his typical warm-up routine and doesn’t want to stray from what works for him. Thompson kept the Padres by two in four innings.
“I started with the same mindset as the bullpen outing,” Thompson said. “I don’t want to change today’s stuff for an outing.”