An infuriating Cubs loss? Don’t worry, I’m here to make it all better!
Well, not really. Like I wrote on Sunday in other outlets, the losses have been too hard to swallow to make you realize how well the Cubs have played in the second half. So really, these losses have kept the Cubs from being stratospheric instead of just pretty good. But that’s worth complaining about. At this point though, I or you or anyone could write this with our eyes closed. The offense goes stale with just not enough runs on the board. It misses a couple of chances early. And the Cubs just do enough to lose. Or don’t make quite enough plays to win. Essentially, you’re saying the same thing.
To wit: In the 1st inning with a clearly nervy starter in Steven “I Have Five” Brault the Cubs get the first two runners on. The next three guys make outs, resulting in only one run. It’s nice to have a lead and all, but with two on and no out and Bryant up you’re hoping for a little more than one run. You’re also hoping for Ben Zobrist to not be hitting fourth, but I only get so many complaints per night. And he did manage the sac fly.
Third inning, same thing. First two runners on, no out. Zobrist basically bunts without bunting, and Happ gets the two of them home. Two runs is not a bad inning…but then the Cubs load the bases. Sadly, it’s for Rene Rivera (we’ll get back to him later) and Kyle Hendricks. Your margin of error is nothing.
And then essentially a fart noise. One more hit, a Bryant double in the 4th. Wade LeBlanc, he of the ERA that’s nuzzling 5.00 this year, muzzles the Cubs for three of the easiest innings he might pitch this year. How does that happen?
So then to Carl’s Jr., who wasn’t terrible. But winning teams don’t walk the leadoff guy. In a one-run game, it really doesn’t take much to put you in hot water after that. Marte didn’t hit the ball hard, but he placed it well, and now you’re up against it. The Cubs caught a break when Starling Marte forgot the brain drugs to pair with the other drugs and went for third with Jay fielding the ball about 20 feet from third (the only spot he’s going to throw anyone out from). But then Rene Rivera, y’know, the defensive catcher, can’t block and locate an Edwards fastball in the dirt, getting Maroff to second. Freese’s ball was the only one hit really hard in the inning, but the longer an inning goes the better chance that’s happening. The walk, the hits, the wild pitch, they add up to just enough to give away a game you really should be having.
At least the Brewers Brewers-ed. I’m sure they’ll find a way to blame the Cubs for that too.
You get a spot starter with Taillon and Cole lurking, the two best the Bucs probably have, and you really have to find a way to get this one if you’re serious about finally grabbing the division with two hands. Instead, we’re just left with two hands of ourselves.
All of it ruined another quality effort from Hendricks, his fifth quality start in a row and sixth in his last seven games. It took a friend to point this out on Twitter, and I won’t mention him by name because he’s a goof, but since the start of 2015 Hendricks has the 9th best ERA in all of baseball.
But that feels little consolation at the moment. This is getting old, and it’s going to have to stop soon.
Top WPA Play: Happ’s single in the 3rd that gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead that always felt tenuous. (+.136)
Bottom WPA Play: Freese’s single that just felt too predictable in the 8th. (-.259).
Lead photo courtesy Charles LeClaire—USA Today Sports