For the third time this week the Chicago Cubs failed to score a run, losing tonight 5-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals.
What You Need to Know: The Cubs were unable to capitalize on the command issues from Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty. Twice the Cubs were able to load the bases, only to end the inning empty handed.
The Cardinals narrowly escaped trouble in the third inning after striking out Kris Bryant, who swung and missed on a fastball down the middle for strike three. In the fourth inning, José Quintana found himself in a tough spot, coming up to bat with two outs. While he was able to work a full count, Quintana was caught looking to end the inning.
On the mound, Quintana was much more in command. He continued his run of solid starts, going five innings and allowing only two earned runs. Things got rocky in the sixth after Quintana surrendered back-to-back hits to start the inning, compelling Joe Maddon to pull Quintana from the game and have Anthony Bass enter the game.
Later in the inning with the bases loaded, Bass induced a double play ball from Yadier Molina, but it allowed Harrison Bader to score from third.
Next Level: Tonight was supposed to be a night off for Addison Russell, as Maddon had Javy Báez starting at shortstop instead. Those plans were quickly scrapped after Báez was hit in the elbow by a Flaherty fastball.
While understandably placed in a difficult situation, Russell had a bad night on the field. During the sixth inning Russell fielded a grounder with runners on first and second, and instead of a going for the easier force out of Bader at third, he went for the much harder throw to first, which he did not have the arm to make, allowing everyone to be safe.
In the eighth inning Russell continued to showcase his throwing woes when he was unable to make the another throw to first base, giving Yairo Muñoz an infield single.
Nights like tonight will create a little bit of uncertainty regarding the future of Russell with the Cubs. Pressure to make a move prior to the trade deadline will increase especially with Manny Machado still available, and Russell is the most likely major-league piece to head the other way in such a trade. If the incumbent shortstop continues to sap his defensive value by throwing balls in the dirt, the Cubs might desire a new direction at the position.
Top WPA Play: Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning with Anthony Rizzo on first (+0.66). A fielder’s choice and flyout preceded a Russell walk, but…
Bottom WPA Play: Jose Quintana struck out to end the inning with the bases loaded (-0.88).
Up Next: The Cubs will be back home to face the Los Angeles Dodgers for a three-game series. Tyler Chatwood is the projected starting pitcher tomorrow, opposite Kenta Maeda, who is making his second start after returning from the DL. During Sunday’s game the Cubs announced that Báez had a bruised elbow, but would be getting X-rays, and Báez himself appeared optimistic that he could return to the lineup as soon as Monday.
Lead photo courtesy Scott Kane—USA Today Sports