Adbert Alzolay's pickoff caps Chicago Cubs' series win in Seattle behind another solid start by Javier Assad

Meghan Montemurro, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

SEATTLE — Chicago Cubs closer Adbert Alzolay was confident the replay review would vindicate him.

Alzolay’s perfectly-timed pickoff move with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday caught Seattle Mariners pinch runner Julio Rodríguez, aided by first baseman Michael Busch’s well-timed tag. The on-field call by first base umpire Doug Eddings determined Rodríguez was safe, though manager Craig Counsell challenged the ruling.

Although Alzolay felt he had nailed Rodríguez, he stayed mentally locked in during the replay review in case the call stood and he had to resume a 1-1 count with Luke Raley, the winning run. Alzolay, though, was right. Replay overturned the call to end the game in a 3-2 victory, setting off Alzolay’s celebratory fist pump and a celebration erupting from the Cubs’ dugout.

“I felt super confident as soon as I throw that one I saw Buschy going and touching him, looking at (Busch’s) face he goes, ‘Yes, I got it,'” Alzolay said. “So I was like, oh yeah, we’ve got it.”

No matter what is happening in the game, Alzolay wants to be mentally prepared for those big moments.

The game-defining scenario might look a little different each time, but Alzolay was ready when he saw Rodríguez taking his lead off first base. He anticipated that Rodríguez, as Seattle’s tying run, would try to move into scoring position. Alzolay threw over after his first pitch to Raley and felt he had a good move even though Rodríguez got back safely.


So, he went to the pickoff move again following his second pitch of the at-bat.

“It was there,” Alzolay said. “As soon as I see him kind of jumping, that was when I made the move to first base.”

The exciting finish capped a series win after the Cubs’ disappointing three-game set in San Diego. It required a total team effort, backed by Busch’s two-run homer — his fourth straight game with a home run — second baseman Nico Hoerner and shortstop Dansby Swanson producing three double plays at key moments in the seventh and eighth innings, and the bullpen combining to throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings while navigating a couple of precarious moments.

“That’s just a testament to our team and the response from the series in San Diego that didn’t go our way to come here and win games by all means necessary,” Swanson said. “So it was definitely a good couple of days for us.”


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