Seiya Suzuki was at his best - and worst - in a dramatic late-night Cubs win

The Chicago outfielder made up for a disastrous error in a big way, walloping a game-tying grand slam in his very next at-bat.
Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds v Chicago Cubs / Quinn Harris/GettyImages

Amidst criticism and metrics that show a dramatic downturn in defensive performance by the Chicago Cubs, watching Seiya Suzuki boot a routine inning-ending fly ball with the bases loaded in the second inning Saturday night felt like a gut punch to open the month of June.

After all, the Cubs had just wrapped up a 10-18 month of May, capped by a dramatic, high-tension loss to the Cincinnati Reds the day prior. Coming out of a 3 1/2-hour rain delay only to see the Reds plate four unearned runs right out of the gates seemed like an ominous sign of things to come.

Instead, in a game that started on a Saturday and ended in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, the Cubs - and Suzuki - found redemption in a big way, coming all the way back to grab a 7-5 win. There were plenty of standout moments in the affair, from Justin Steele gutting his way through five innings to Dansby Swanson delivering a game-winning two-run blast in the eighth.

But this will be known, for better or worse, as the Suzuki Game - at least for a little while.

After Cincinnati starter Hunter Greene loaded the bases, Suzuki came to the plate in the bottom of that second inning with two outs and a chance to redeem himself. And he did so in the most dramatic way possible: a game-tying grand slam.

Suzuki set the tone for the Cubs offensively, finishing the night 2-for-4 with a homer, triple and four RBI - promising signs for a team desperate to find its power at the plate. As exciting as this game was, and as unforgettable as the turn of events for the Chicago right fielder were, there are going to be questions about his glove in right field moving forward.

Cubs should look to move Seiya Suzuki into a full-time DH role

In Japan, Suzuki won the NPB equivalent of a Gold Glove in the outfield but has been inconsistent since making the jump to MLB. No one will soon forget his dropped fly ball in Atlanta during the Cubs' unraveling last September and Saturday night's error brought that memory rushing back in the worst way.

Defensive metrics have never been kind to the 29-year-old since joining the Cubs back in 2022, with only his arm grading out as above average. His Baseball Savant page paints the picture of a subpar defensive right fielder who, at times, has been a major liability out there.

With defensive whiz Pete Crow-Armstrong back (seemingly for good), it's worth wondering if we'll see Cody Bellinger in right field more often, slotting Suzuki into the DH role as often as possible. Folks will remember the grand slam and the come-from-behind win, but this game could have gone in a very different reaction and we'll see how manager Craig Counsell handles the lineup card moving forward.