Well that’s a funny-looking strike.
The Cubs didn’t play very well today. They didn’t really play very well all series, except for the ‘pen. Not necessarily bad, just not tight. And today it was loose. Like Iggy Pop loose. And it leaves them with a split with the Marlins, which—even though it’s only 1/40th of the season—still feels a touch on the disappointing side of the ledger. Not that you want to invest too much emotion in one series. But it’s what we do here.
What You Need To Know: José Quintana was good… until he wasn’t, which was the 5th inning. The offense was good… until it wasn’t, which was just about any time anyone was on base. Which is kind of the point of the whole thing. Otherwise, you’re just a guitar solo with no rhythm section backing you. They got on, which is nice, and then things just didn’t quite click. Then, before you could blink, the game as out of reach. It happens that way sometimes.
Next Level: While Q didn’t give up a hit until the 5th, and the results said he was in completely control, it was the kind of control where the captain is basically ducking in and out while drinking coffee and letting the crew handle it. It took him 25 pitches to get out of the first, as the Marlins kept fouling off pitches and he couldn’t quite put anyone away. Not necessarily strike them out, but keep them off enough to get soft contact. He didn’t. He didn’t strike out anyone early on, either, which led you to believe that the stuff was just not quite biting enough. He ended up with only two strikeouts in six innings. This is a guy who did better than a strikeout per inning last year, so you know he was a little off.
And then it all went to pot in the 5th. Cameron Maybin doubled, and after the Cubs registered one out, Joe Maddon decided to go for the jugular a bit and play the infield in on Chad Wallach. You can understand it: the pitcher is next and if you can kneecap the run there you probably get out of the inning unscathed. I love to rant and rave about managerial decisions because my life is dark and empty, but I can’t here.
And sometimes the bear eats you.
Wallach singled past the infield. Maddon made another call to intentionally walk Lewis Brinson to get to Derek Dietrich. Again, you get it, as Quintana versus Dietrich is a lefty-lefty matchup. Still, it feels like the muscular lefty was the most real hitter in the lineup. He singled, and then Q lost Starlin Castro, and then the big blow was Brian Anderson’s double. And that’s your game.
That was the whole affair today, really—things just not going the Cubs way. They scalded two balls in the first, and they were right at Brinson. They didn’t cash in with two runners on in the 3rd. And then the 4th is what really hurts. Schwarber lead off with a double. Caratini got to 3-1, and you’re sort of all right with him taking a shot on that pitch instead of just going the other way. Unfortunately, Caratini’s bold hack resulted in a grounder to third. Having Báez bunt with Schwarber on 3rd and the pitcher next again isn’t the worst idea, but Báez just didn’t get it done correctly. And then you’re inning is over.
It was just one of those games where the Cubs didn’t quite lock in and come out with the same efficiency that they’re capable of. They’ll make this up somewhere around here. Nuts. Onwards.
Top WPA Play: Schwarber’s double to lead off the 4th. Which basically tells you what kind of day it was (+.075).
Bottom WPA Play: Anderson’s double in the 5th, which ended this one as a contest pretty much (-.126).
Lead photo courtesy Jasen Vinlove—USA Today Sports