Every Daniel Murphy hit during Pride Month should be classified as a hate crime.
There are plenty of reasons to loathe the Rockies first baseman. Chiefest among them being he’s what would happen if a Sinclair Broadcasting “Must Run” became a real boy.
Or you could go with the fact that tonight he chose to come up to the plate to “Shipping Up to Boston.” In Colorado. Even Murphy’s walk-up music is a plug for the straight pride parade.
He’s got to be front and center in the team picture for the most loathsome Cub opponents of the past 40 years, doesn’t he? Steve Garvey, Will Clark, Josh Beckett, Daniel Murphy. That reads like what it would happen if Morrissey wrote “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”
And most depressingly, it feels like even when he fails, he comes through about half the time anyway. Such was the case in the eighth inning tonight. With the score tied at five, Murphy sent a one-out chopper down the first base line. Anthony Rizzo started his dive and, with a platinum glove to his credit, the Cubs first baseman probably stood a puncher’s chance of snaring it. Or, at the very least, knocking it down and keeping Murphy to one base.
Unfortunately, the bouncer glanced off the first base bag and bounded into right field for a double. Steve Cishek proceeded to get Raimel Tapia to strike out looking but Murphy stole third on the play and scored what proved to be the winning run on Ryan McMahon’s two out line drive single to right center.
Up until the latter portion of the game, tonight felt like both teams agreed to play Coors Field baseball for only one inning. In the top of the third, the Cubs jumped German Márquez for three home runs and staked themselves to a lightning quick 4-0 lead.
David Bote led off the inning with a solo homer to right center on a classic Coors hit that just appeared to keep going and going until it cleared the wall. After becoming the first Cub second baseman to drive in seven runs since Ryne Sandberg during his last series against the Rockies, Bote decided to add to his Cub middle infielders impressions by doing a spot on “Javy Báez first major league hit.” Let’s hope no one ever shows him video of Jose Macias.
Kyle Schwarber followed by taking the very next pitch and depositing it into the left field bleachers. You might remember that seemingly during every game in Spring Training, Schwarber worked on going the other way in order to take more advantage of the defensive alignment against him. And while the Rockies were shifting against Schwarber tonight, it appeared that Bud Black forgot to station Trevor Story in Section 154.
Kris Bryant then worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch bringing up Anthony Rizzo, who came into tonight’s contest hitting a seemingly impossible .213 in Denver. But after a very Rizzo-esque at bat that involved fouling off a series of 2-2 pitches, he finally crushed a slider to deep center field that landed 433 feet away in the Coors Field shrubbery. At that point, NBC Sports Chicago had to turn off the field mic in order to spare their audience from the sound of a jubilant first baseman saying “Ni!” at will to old ladies.
Sadly, Yu Darvish gave it all back in the bottom of the inning. It all started with a hit-by-pitch off the foot of number eight hitter Tony Wolters, who undoubtedly distracted Darvish with the facial hair of a man who just got to Denver that afternoon after escaping the Dread Pirate Roberts. Charlie Blackmon then followed by mashing a two run homer to the second deck in right. And after a David Dahl single, Nolan Arenado tied it up with a 431 foot homer to left.
Honestly, the home runs weren’t the most bothersome part about that inning for Yu. It’s Coors Field. Hanging sliders and homers happen. But here’s the thing: the Rockies lineup is very top heavy. They give you a lot of outs in the six through nine slots. And in Coors Field, you have to take every single one of them, especially when letting one of them get on base leads to the lineup turning over. Hitting Wolters leading off the inning transformed a manageable situation into something very treacherous in the blink of an eye.
Other than that inning, Darvish pitched very well, giving up those four runs, six hits, and no walks in six innings. It was, as Len and JD called it, a “Coors Field quality start.” You’ll take that every time in this Hieronymus Bosch landscape for pitchers.
The bats stayed quiet until the seventh when the Rockies and Cubs again traded runs. Ian Desmond reduced a Mike Montgomery hanging curve into its component molecules in the bottom of the inning and the result was a 486 foot go-ahead homer, the longest hit in MLB this year.
But all was not lost. In the top of the eighth, Bryant and Rizzo reached base to lead off the inning on a walk and single. Báez then grounded into what appeared to be a sure double play to short as Bryant scored the tying run. But, in what was a rather pedestrian trick for El Mago, he was called safe at first because Daniel Murphy’s glove disagreed with his lifestyle as a fielder. Unfortunately, Carlos González and Victor Caratini struck out to strand the go ahead run at first.
All in all, a pretty frustrating loss capped by the winning run being scored by the biggest villain of recent Cubs history against a bullpen that was always burning since the world’s been turning. But in a couple weeks, at least we’ll have to figure out how to write a new verse that rhymes with “Kimbrel.”
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