On Wednesday night, the Chicago Cubs won in the most improbable way when outfielder Jason Heyward hit a two-strike, two-out pitch from lefthander Adam Morgan of the Philadelphia Phillies for a walk-off grand slam as the Cubs downed the Phillies 7-5.
Heyward has been much maligned since joining the Cubs but has started to make better contact of late, which prompted Cubs manager Joe Maddon to move him to second in the batting order.
Maddon said following the first walk-off win by his team this season that he likes what Heyward is doing mechanically at bat as much as at any time he has been in a Cubs uniform.
This was Heyward’s first walk-off home run of his career and the first time he has hit a grand slam in three seasons.
In 2016, Heyward joined the Cubs as a free agent signing a deal for $184 million. When he signed he was a strong teammate and Gold Glove winner with a steady offensive game the Cubs thought would only improve, but Heyward regressed.
However, since returning last month from missing time due to a concussion, Heyward has been different at the plate.
A reported jokingly asked Heyward if his concussion had done something to help his play and he answered that everything does seem much clearer as he laughed knowing his answer had a double-meaning.
Following his walk-off grand slam, Heyward said he knows it is cliché but he has tried to keep it all simple. One at-bat and one-pitch at a time, while making adjustments as needed.
Whatever Heyward did on Morgan’s 97-mph fastball worked as the ball did not land until it reached Wrigley Field’s bleachers in right field.
It was only the third homer Heyward has hit thus far this season and the first against a left-hander.
Since his return May 18 from the concussion, he is batting .300 and has struck out just three times. If Heyward continues to improve at the plate he will be an important addition to the Cubs lineup.
The ending of Wednesday’s game brought to a close a crazy night of baseball in which the Phillies hit a three-run home run in the sixth off reliever Steve Cishek and a two-run shot off Brandon Morrow in the ninth to lead 5-3 before Heyward’s heroics.