Game 31 Recap: Cardinals 4, Cubs 3, Joy 0

Et tu, Dexter? Then fall, Clark the Cub! (Dies)

What You Need to Know: I can’t think of anything else I love more than baseball. And the Cubs are pretty much my favorite thing in the world. But there are usually a couple times every season when there is nothing I want more than a week without Cubs baseball.

We are definitely in one of those times.

No hits with runners in scoring position. Taking 14 innings to score three damn runs. Bizarre defensive lapses at the worst possible times. And of course a game like this would end on a walk off by one of our favorite players of all time with the Cubs one strike away from a desperately needed win. Dexter Fowler has the best smile in baseball. And after his homer last night, it had all the joy of a Human Centipede marathon.

This morning the Cubs got to fly out of The Gateway City which represented the only victory they got to experience all weekend. After all, there’s a reason Charles Lindbergh christened his airplane “The Spirit of St. Louis” and then immediately flew the hell to Paris. (And, based on the sentiments he expressed in World War II, Lindbergh could definitely qualify for the “Best Fans in Baseball” moniker.)

As anyone who’s followed this team can tell you, there is usually at least one night a year where they play what can only be described as “That Damn Busch Stadium Game.” The Cubs have just finished an entire series of That Damn Busch Stadium Game. The way this series was going, of course the Cubs couldn’t take advantage of the Cardinals playing without the services of Future Hall of Famer by Any Measure Except Every Statistical One Yadier Molina, who underwent surgery to repair a traumatic hematoma in his “Make 46,000 people simultaneously scream ‘OHHHH!’” region.

Anyone who saw the injury on Saturday knew it was painful. Making the situation even worse, Yadi apparently respected the Cardinal uniform too much to let an athletic supporter touch it.

Before the game began, Baseball Tonight showed a clip of a KISS cover band playing downtown St. Louis. Which was appropriate because the Cubs have spent the past week playing the baseball equivalent of Gene Simmons’s face without makeup.

Next Level: Something weird is going on with Jason Heyward. And no, it’s not an OPS over .600.

Most of the time, he’s still the same sterling defender we’ve come to know. Hell, for most of this game, he was that guy. When Jon Lester was in trouble in the fourth after allowing a one out double to Jedd Gyorko, Heyward came through in a big way.

Paul DeJong sent a sinking liner in the direction of right field and it looked for all the world like an RBI—maybe even extra bases.  But into the picture came Heyward, completely under control as he pursued the ball, transitioning smoothly into a gorgeous slide, and making the catch like it was nothing.

Then after Kolten Wong scorched a base hit to right on the very next at bat, Heyward charged aggressively and gunned a throw home to keep Gyorko from trying to score. After an intentional walk, Lester got Michael Wacha to pop easily to Heyward for the final out of a scoreless inning.

Considering the game’s two rain delays, it felt like a night where Heyward was going to use his glove to inspire his teammates instead of his words. But in the sixth inning, his glove turned into Mitt Romney auditioning for an Arby’s commercial.

With two outs and doughy pest Gyorko on first, Wong lined another ball directly at Heyward. Again, the Gold Glover pursued it completely under control and as your brain started to register “He’s out,” Heyward went into a slide and… watched the ball sail over his glove for a game tying triple.

It was the worst possible combination of events: losing the ball in the lights combined with a poorly chosen slide to turn a single into a game tying extra base hit. It’s not like Heyward has suddenly morphed into Keith Moreland. But there have been multiple occasions this year where he’s looked like he’s trying to persuade someone to record “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” with the line updated to “Have Jason Heyward drop a routine fly.”

And it came at the worst possible time last night.

Top Play (WPA): Javy Baez’s 14th inning home run to give the Cubs a 3-2 lead. (+.414)

“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

–Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

Bottom Play (WPA): Dexter Fowler’s heel turn. (-.903)

“Clearly you’ve never been to St. Louis.”

–Red, deleted scene

Up Next: The Cubs begin a series with the Marlins tonight with Kyle Hendricks taking on Jarlin Garcia.

Lead photo courtesy Jeff Curry—USA Today Sports

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