Cubs walk-off Padres on Busch’s homer in 9th

Credit: AP Photo

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Credit: AP Photo

Following their somewhat nail-biting 6-3 win against the Chicago Cubs on Monday night, the baseball gods presented the San Diego Padres with a daunting task: take the series at Wrigley against rookie phenom Shota Imanaga.

Imanaga, the 30-year-old rookie from Japan, ranks first among rookies in every pitching statistic, showcasing a ridiculous 0.78 ERA over 34.2 innings entering Tuesday’s action.

Despite below-average pitch velocities, Imanaga’s success manifests in his efficient spin rate, which causes his fastball, in particular, to appear as if it rises.

For San Diego, Mike Shildt gave the nod to right-hander Randy Vásquez in place of Joe Musgrove, who is on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation.

In his last outing in late April in Colorado, the Rockies tagged Vásquez for four earned runs in 2.2 innings.

However, Vásquez bounced back from the rough performance in Coors as he turned in a solid game for a replacement starter, going 4.1 frames, striking out six, and allowing just one earned run.

For the first time in his career, the right-hander did not issue a walk in a game he had started.

After three scoreless innings on both sides, the Cubs took a 1-0 lead on a leadoff solo home run by Cody Bellinger, playing in his first game off the 10-day injured list, in the fourth inning.

Left-hander Adrián Morejón was first out of the pen for Shildt, entering the contest with a 2.38 ERA over 11.1 innings. Despite a little traffic on the basepaths, Morejon stranded two cubs.

The Padres made some noise in the top of the sixth inning but failed to capitalize on a major opportunity. With runners on first and second, Imanaga punched out Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts to end the frame.

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Like San Diego, Chicago put on a lot of pressure in the sixth frame. With runners at the corners, Morejón struck Michael Busch out on an elevated fastball to escape the jam unscathed.

After 1.2 excellent innings in relief from Morejón, Stephen Kolek took the hill in the bottom of the seventh and worked an easy 1-2-3 frame.

To begin the top half of the eighth inning, Luis Arráez pinch-hit for Kyle Higashioka and instantly smacked a left-on-left single against Imanaga.

Then, in a flash, Jurickson Profar spoiled Imanaga’s gem and ripped a clutch 103-MPH missile into the left centerfield bleachers to give the Friars a 2-1 lead.

Following the momentum change, Yuki Matsui went out in the bottom of the eighth to face back-to-back lefties Mike Tauchman and Bellinger. 

Frustratingly, Matsui walked Tauchman and Bellinger singled to place runners at the corners. Then, Christopher Morel plated Tauchman on a sacrifice fly to even the score 2-2

After Matsui got the second out of the frame, Enyel De Los Santos enforced a weak ground ball out by Dansby Swanson to limit the damage and keep the tie

After a scoreless top of the ninth inning, De Los Santos continued his work from the eighth. On the first pitch, Busch crushed a 427-foot no-doubter to even the series 1-1.

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