Well that was new for this year. While the Cubs have found all sorts of infuriating ways with the bats to come up short in games this year, ending the first four innings on double plays was a card they hadn’t turned over yet. Certainly unique, and I for one am impressed that they were able to show the variety that they did in doing it. Once they knocked that out they let the home plate ump Dan Belino to basically snow the Cubs under in the rest of the innings. And if that wasn’t enough, then rotten luck reared its ugly head. All made for a lovely afternoon, didn’t it?
Let’s get through this in no particular order, shall we?
-I’m always amazed at not just how much these games mean to White Sox fans (because their whole identity is essentially tied up in being anti-Cubs, as we certainly know it’s not about going out and supporting their team at the Cell), but how that trickles down to their players. The Sox have been an abhorrent defensive team this season. Jeff Samardzija has been close to manslaughter on several occasions this season after watching the grounders he forces dribble into the outfield, and no jury would have ever convicted him. But put them at Wrigley and there they are diving all over the infield to make plays, including one to end the game. I assure you if those same balls are hit in Jacobs Field, Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Sanchez merely wave as they roll by.
-Speaking of which, Soler absolutely scorched three balls today. He got one hit out of it, and even that had to overpower Carlos Rodon’s glove. His BABIP is going to correct at some point, and the results should be groin-grabbingly satisfying.
-I generally refrain from complaining about refs or umpires, because both teams have to play the game with them. But the aforementioned Belino was simply awful today, and it hurt the Cubs more because the Sox were all striking out hacking and whacking and missing by at least a foot on Hendricks all day. Meanwhile, the Cubs seemed intent on taking advantage of Rodon’s wildness, but a fat lot of good it did when pitches six inches to a foot off the corners were called strikes. Dexter Fowler might break out the whole Joy Division discography tonight.
-Good lord is that Sox offense awful. Yeah yeah, they won the game, but it took a botched HBP call (he swung at the pitch), and then a botched stolen base call for them to scratch out even one run. And I seriously won’t be surprised if that’s the only run they manage all weekend.
-Speaking of which, I was under the impression that even if you didn’t have a challenge left, after the sixth inning you could “suggest” the umps look at a play if it’s questionable. So where was the review of Bonifacio’s steal? Explain why we don’t just have a guy in the pressbox with monitors who can radio down again?
-Though why Maddon wasted his challenge on what was clearly a catch is another debate. I don’t want to be too harsh on Hendricks for his wonky baserunning, but if he’s honed in on third than Gary Jones has to be screaming at him to get back to second. Did he not know it was a catch? Sorry, watched the game in a bar on mute. Worst case the Cubs should have had two on with Rizzo and Bryant coming up.
-On the good side, Hendricks was once again brilliant, though it’s not hard against that squad. He appears to be honing a Maddux comeback cutter against lefties, and I always wondered how he would get inside on them to be more effective. He has no problem doing so with righties, as he broke three bats today.
-I’m trying to think of the last time Starlin Castro hit a ball solidly in the air. I know I saw it. Maybe it was a dream. Felt so real though.
-The Cubs drew seven walks and didn’t score. That’s not easy to do.
-Rodon was wildly effective I guess, because it’s hard for the batter to know where it’s going if the pitcher doesn’t. That slider is pretty wicked, though.
-I saw a lot of people panicking that the Cubs now have to beat Sale to win the series. Um, teams have won games against him before. Trust me, it’s happened. And seeing as how the Sox really shouldn’t be good for any more than two runs, it shouldn’t be such a mountain.