Kind Of A Drag--Giants 5 Cubs 4

Today was adding insult to literal injury. Yu Darvish headed to the DL and the Cubs lost a frustrating game just a few hours later.

Gorkys Hernandez is really annoying. It started with a bloop ground rule double. He hit a ball that dropped in front of Heyward and then bounced into the right foul stands. Jose Quintana got a pair of groundballs from Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria to move and then keep Hernandez at third. Quintana struck out Brandon Belt. Mac Williamson single recorded a single to start the second inning, but Quintana would strike out the next five batters he faced after that.

Chris Stratton alternated between dominance and struggles in his five innings of work. He retired the first three Cubs easily, but then struggled with his command in the second inning. Willson Contreras singled between two walks to load the bases with no outs. Javier Báez made contact in the next at bat, but hit right at pitcher Chris Stratton. He bobbled the ball which forced him to throw home in time to get the first out. Jason Heyward drew a bases loaded walk to drive in the first run of the game, but Jose Quintana bounced into the inning ending double play. Kyle Schwarber blasted a one out mistake pitch to give the Cubs a 2-0 edge in the third inning.

Quintana walked Williamson with one out in the fourth inning. His biggest mistake pitch was smacked for a two run home run by Brandon Crawford to tie the game. Quintana retired the next two batters to keep the game level into the bottom half of the inning. Báez untied the game with a two out blast in the fourth.

The wheels came off for Quintana in the fifth inning. Hernandez hit another double down the third base line with one out. It was just out of the reach of Kris Bryant, who had taken a few steps in after the fake bunt earlier in the at bat. McCutchen hit a ball into center field that Ian Happ took a Chris Coghlan-esque route to the ball. It became a game tying double for McCutchen that ended Quintana's night. Steve Cishek was the first call out of the pen as always. Longoria flew out to make the move look solid, but Brandon Belt ripped a solid liner to give the Giants their first lead of the night.

The Cubs bats went cold. Stratton pitched a 1-2-3 inning in his final inning of work. The Cubs couldn't do much against Reyes Moronta and Sam Dyson pitched scoreless innings. The Giants tacked on runs in the seventh inning. Guess who started a rally for the Giants? You are wrong unless you guessed Gorkys Hernandez. This time it was bunt single to start the inning against Every Eve Steve. A McCutchenn ground out and Longoria singled put runners on the corners with one out. Maddon went to Justin Wilson to face lefty Brandon Belt. Belt hit a drive into left field that was just deep enough to score the speedy Hernandez. Wilson got five outs without another run crossing the plate, but the Giants lead felt insurmontable with the way the Cubs had been swinging the bats.

Tony Watson pitched the bottom of the eighth inning. The move worked exactly the opposite of how Bruce Bochy expected. Kyle Schwarber doubled to start the frame. Kris Bryant struck the ball well but it hung up long enough to be caught. Anthony Rizzo singled to cut the lead to 5-4, but Willson Contreras extinguished the threat with a double play ball.

Pedro Strop pitched the ninth inning for the Cubs. There was a lot of traffic in the inning with two walks (one intentional), a single and double, but a double play and strike out kept the score at 5-4. Hunter Strickland is the Giants closer with Mark Melancon on the DL. Strickland had to face pinch hitter extraordinaire Tommy La Stella to start the ninth. Strickland fell behind 3-0 to La Stella before working the count full. La Stella flew out on the 3-2 pitch for the first out. Báez popped out on the first pitch for the second out. Jason Heyward was the final chance for the Cubs. Suprisingly Heyward grounded out to second on the 3-2 pitch to end the game.


Source: FanGraphs

Q Defender
Jose Quintana is my guy, but it was frustrating to watch this one. We saw what good Jose Quintana looks like. The first inning at bat against Evan Longoria really highlighted him locking in after a few things went against him. Hernandez led the game off with the cheapest of ground rule doubles you'll ever see, and he reached third on a ground ball out. Quintana was down 2-0 with the most dangerous Giants hitter on deck. Quintana threw a beautiful curve for a called strike. He followed up with an elevated fastball for a swinging strike two. Longoria managed to make contact on the next pitch, but the out was recorded without the runner scoring. Quintana struck out Belt to end the inning. Counting the Belt punch out, Quintana struck out five of the next six batters he faced.

The fourth inning was another fluky extra base hit from pesky Gorkys Hernandez. If Albert Almora is in centerfield on the McCutchen flyball, Quintana is probably pitching into the sixth inning at least. Instead the game was tied and the go ahead run was in scoring position. Maddon went to his middle inning safety blanket, and Cishek just couldn't get two outs without the go ahead run scoring.

The Blame Game
Jose Quintana is likely to take a beating in the comments, but there is plenty of blame to go around. Ian Happ needs to be in the lineup because his bat is useful, but with a flyball pitcher in Quintana on the mound it wasn't hard to predict some adventures in center. Unfortunately the sequencing of that adventure was the game tying slash go ahead runs.

The Cubs lineup did what it has done throughout most of the year, and that is squander chances with runners on base. The Cubs had a chance to break the game open in the second inning, and they had to settle for a single tally that the pitcher forced in with a base on balls. Half of the Cubs runs came on home runs. Too frequently were the hitters giving up at bats and quick, stress free innings for not particularly strong Giants pitchers. The scoreline will place the loss squarely on Quintana's shoulders, but there is plenty of shares to hand out tonight.

Random Reference
We've been through this a few times. Q was one of the most consistent and durable starters in baseball for years. That combined with his contract is why the Cubs were willing to part with top prospects to bring him to the Northside. He flashed some of that brilliance today, but he looked like the mortal Q shell we've seen far too often as well.


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  • Everyone I know says the Brewers will fade. I can’t pretend to know, but they sure are playing well. The Cubs won a World Series. I asked for one. I’m still happy.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    The Brewers are legit. Pirates not. Cardinals? Maybe.

  • This game rests on Joe. Almora needs to be in CF, Happ in RF, and Heyward on the bench. And, BTW, let the starters work longer. Q could have pitched out of that inning.

    I love Joe, but his in-game management of lineups and bullpen has cost the Cubs 4 games this year. I hope we can make those up in Aug/Sept.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    I do think it’s time to sit Heyward. His ground out to second to end the game was soooo predictable.

  • In reply to Cubswin09:

    My son, who I told you before is a Giant fan, was next to me when I turned and said “$5 bucks he grounds out to 2B”. What ticks me off is: 1) I was right and 2) he didn’t take the bet.

  • In reply to rbrucato:

    You stole my post, I couldn't agree with you more; it's starts with playing Heyward way too much, and Zobrist to a certain degree.
    And why not let Quintana face at least 1 more batter, if Almora Jr. is in center, that double turns into an out; and why keep Cishek in there when Rosario was just called up.......I just pray that Joe can God-willing step outside himself for a moment, after some of these losses where just about anyone can see things need to change............

  • Got to play Almora in center. It's demoralizing to a pitching staff not to. Strong up the middle, period.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Could not agree more. It seems that JM doesn't like Almora as he is just doesn't want to see him succeed. Put him in and let him play everyday against both LH and RH pitching. It's time for Joe to put his ego on hold.

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    In reply to veteran:

    First of all, thanks for your service veteran. I have said for a long time to put Albert in CF and keep him there and let him know that if he goes 0-4 or 0-8 he's still going to be playing. He is our best CF and we all can see how one play can make a difference. I've been impressed with how Happ has progressed offensively and as I said yesterday, put him in RF, especially in Wrigley because it's smaller and maybe easier to play, other times put him in LF and Zo in RF. Have Zo lead off, but he's the one person I would give a lot of rest. It's a long season and he's played probably more games than most the last 4 years. This team needs a spark. Consider this like the
    GS-Rockets game on Sat. Houston went out big in the first quarter and then after halftime it was all GS. These 40+ games are our first quarter, now we need someone to give us that something to drive us and get us going. We have so much talent that when it's going right it's a thing of beauty to see, both on defense and offense. Let's Go!

  • Guy just posted on Cub Reporter that Cubs are 19-10 when Almora starts, 7-7 when he plays in the game and 0-5 when he doesn't get into the game at all. Do not know accuracy, just repeating.

  • In reply to veteran:

    Agree, I like Almora in center as well, most days. My eyes tell me Heyward is a better centerfielder than Happ. Albert has energy and instincts that are hard measure.

  • Ok boy's now you see what I have been saying about Heyward for 3 years. Bottom line is he stinks, what a waste of money!!!!!!!

    There are so many more outfielders playing so much better for less money. This will go down as the worst signing by Epstein ever.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    1. Looks like Yu(k) may compete with Hayward for that title though.
    2. I agree with the others about AA jr.

  • In reply to cubbie forever:

    Yea like Nick Markakis. His contract is not even 1/3rd of what heyward gets and he’s much more productive with great defense.

  • Heyward has become a huge problem for the front office. He is a good teammate, but the Cubs would win more games with Jason on the DL. He can't hit and its not getting any better into his third year. With his contract Joe almost has to put Jason In the lineup frequently and hope that he figures something out. If JHey isn't better by the All Star break, he will have to grab some bench. Not a pretty picture.

  • In one game we saw a lot of what has frustrated us for over a year now.

    Everything Happ did was wrong on that fly ball, false step, first real step wrong, and a bad angle. This is not an Almora thing, most good CF sit under that ball and catch it.

    But here is the real rub, Happ needs to be in the game, but they need to make the decision as an organization that Heyward is a bench player. It is long enough already, everyone needs to swallow their pride. Remember what Theo said when they showed Renteria the door for Joe? Well they need to call on that advice now.

    Happ’s bat needs to be in the lineup, so that ball that dropped isn’t on him. If they are dying for Heyward to play for defense Schwarber needs to sit more, but I advise against that.

    Then after a fluky double, that looked foul but was certainly close, and a botched play in CF, Q gets run off. First, our bullpen is going to need 2-3 arms in trade the way we are going. Second, I hate that decision. The reason is Cishek still needs to get a lefty out. So both would have an off side hitter to deal with. If it is the 7th fine, you can mix and match, but it is the 5th and you need innings. You didn’t give the team a significant advantage in the moment, and you drained the bullpen for tonight. It is simply a poor managerial decision. Now Joe has been great but it seems like he is moving more and more in this direction. I hope they can get his attention for the big picture, but the big picture when your moves don’t substantially improve the game you are in.

    The Brewers still look to me like a team that would fade, but to be frank they are by far the least of my worries. The Cubs are my concern, the Brewers wake up with a nice lead in the division less from their hard work and more from the Cubs underachieving. This Cubs team looks FAR more like the 2017 version than the 2016. If the Cubs rally like the 17 club did the way they are playing isn’t going to be a real threat in October. At least 3 AL teams are miles ahead of them and I would take the Nats in a series vs. us.

    A ton of work to do, and there is a lot of time.... but it starts with some sobering decisions. Heyward is a defensive player only and shouldn’t get more than 1-2 starts a week. We need to expect more, and ask more from starters not named Lester and Hendricks. This teams can turn this around but they need to start to understand that this team is not functioning they way it was intended and make changes to start succeeding again in new ways.

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    Someone needs to tell Q to stop messing around with 0-2 counts. I've lost track of how many times he goes 0-2 on someone just to have it run full and then he either walks the guy or has to lay one right down the middle and it gets crushed. In the 4th inning he was 0-2 on both Williamson and Crawford and just made non competitive pitches ends up 3-2 walks the first and the other homers. It's so frustrating to watch him do this and hes been doing it WAY too much and I think this has been his biggest problem. Also as many have pointed out im not sure what Almora has done to Joe but this crap needs to end and he needs to play daily while shifting Happ to right.

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