Home Sports Nico Hoerner is ‘the new sheriff in town’: Cubs’ walk-off win felt like a big moment

Nico Hoerner is ‘the new sheriff in town’: Cubs’ walk-off win felt like a big moment

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CHICAGO — Nico Horner looked like a character from a Saturday Night Live skit, sitting in front of his locker Monday night with a smile on his face and a cowboy hat on his head . Eurodance in the 1990s, his La Bouche’s “Be My Lover”, his song, as the Cubs tasted their first walk-off win of the young season, Wrigley his field the sound inside his clubhouse his system rang out from

“Jan[Gomez]put it on my head,” Horner said. “There’s some kind of festive hat that I think I’ve been assigned. That’s what we do. I didn’t read much about it.”

It can’t be helped, Nico. It wasn’t until the Cubs outplayed All-Star pitcher Luis Castillo, endured Jared Kerenich’s skyscraper-tying home run in the ninth inning, and finally defeated the Mariners team with World Series ambitions. At 17:17, Madrigal made Gomez think he “thought he couldn’t see” when Horner drove the ball into right field to score pinch runner Nick Madrigal, who stole third base on a dangerous play. rice field. This 3-2 win of his under his new LED lights in the old ballpark felt like the game the Cubs were losing last April.

Overreactions occur during this period. But for better or worse, these moments can still be very revealing. It’s hard to remember the last time there was real joy or big buzz around this team. When the Cubs swept the Cardinals in June 2021 and sold-out crowds returned to friendly confines, the surge only poked fun at fans and briefly tricked players and staff, but it ended 11 straight games. The loss forced baseball president Jed Hoyer to sell. at the trading deadline.

A lot of the “it’s not here” message felt forced. If you don’t win enough, slogans and gimmicks become tiring acts. But back in the locker room, he noticed a group of reporters gathering around Gomez, and there was a kind of refreshing smile on Horner’s face as he hurled his cowboy hat at the veteran catcher. I was there.

“I just saw the hat and thought, ‘Oh, he’s the new sheriff in town,'” Gomez said. “Things like that happen organically. rice field.

Inside the utility, he got airtime by wearing a helmet with a rally bucket on his head and a fake hand on top to symbolize the celebratory gesture the Cubs used in a shocking game in 2015. It’s clearly too early to try to track fielder Jonathan Herrera. Compete in the National League Championship Series. But it’s been a long season, and being goofy is a much better sign than pointing fingers or answering questions about contract or trade rumors.

Gomez, one of the defense-first catchers the Cubs have rated higher than Wilson Contreras, retired the first 10 hitters faced by Drew Smiley and limited the Mariners to one run in five innings, allowing Curb to score more than 10 runs. I kept looking for the ball. Five different Cubs relievers covered the next five innings when manager David Ross pressed the right bullpen button. Cody Bellinger and Eric Hosmer — his two former All-Stars who signed one-year contracts after being released this past offseason — drove runs with timely hits. New Gold His Glove shortstop Dansby Swanson made another important defensive play of his, defending a ground ball cleanly and decisively throwing to third base to lead off his double in the eighth inning. turned off.

“Getting off to a good start is important for everyone,” Gomez said. “But at the same time, it’s also important to understand what we’re building here. You have such a great culture, such a great fan base behind us every game that you just can’t put your head down. We’ve had a lot of experience here, and when something happens, there are 10 to 15 people already doing it.

Like Seiya Suzuki. His absence should be noticeable when teams spend nearly $100 million to acquire players. So do the Cubs and Suzuki, a Japanese outfielder who has almost fully recovered from the strained left oblique that thwarted most of spring training. This is one lever he can pull as the early schedule becomes more and more difficult.

Ross said his best prediction was to revitalize Suzuki at some point during the team’s upcoming West Coast trip. Monday was the start of a tough stretch in which the Cubs will face the Mariners, Dodgers and Padres 13 times in 18 days. These three teams from last year’s playoff field should show just how close the Cubs have closed the gap after spending more than $300 million offseason.

“You just want to see how you measure up,” Ross said. I don’t intend to.”

Even Horner, who completed a three-year, $35 million contract extension ahead of the season opener to cement his position as a core player at Wrigley Field, didn’t stick to a one-game-at-a-time script.

“It felt important to win that match,” Horner said. All of them matter. ”

(Patrick Wisdom throws water at Nico Horner after Monday’s win over the Mariners (Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/USA Today)

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