Today was the day after the horrific outfield collision and we received about the worst possible news. Kyle Schwarber is done for the, hopefully, magical 2016 season. The hope is that this is just a temporary setback for Kyle Schwarber’s development and an interesting plot point in the narrative of the year. Baseball is a cruel game in so many ways, but that there was no respite after the news is perhaps the cruelest.
The Cubs started off well in this bold, new era. Dexter Fowler continued his hot start with a lead off single, but the Cubs ended the inning before Anthony Rizzo even got to bat. Jean Segura began Jason Hammel‘s night with a scare as he drove the ball just below the yellow home run line in dead center. Segura motored into second were he would on an infield single by Socrates Brito. The Paul Goldschmidt fly out turned into a significant play when Dexter Fowler fired to second keeping Brito at first. David Peralta grounded into an inning ending double play to keep the game scoreless. Hammel settled in at that point retiring the next 8 batters.
Robbie Ray worked his way into trouble in the third inning. He walked Addison Russell and David Ross to start the inning. Jason Hammel bunted but too hard at Goldschmidt. He fired to third to nail Russell, but Ray walked Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward to drive in the first run of the game. Ben Zobrist hit a grounder for a force out at second but also the Cubs second run of the game. The inning would end without the Cubs registering a hit.
Some creative base running in both halves of the fifth inning left the score at 2-0, but Hammel would continue to work into trouble. Hammel walked three batters in the previous two innings, but the shutout remained in tact. Jean Segura singled to start the sixth though for the first Diamondback hit since the first inning. He stole second in Socrates Brito’s plate appearance and reached third on his fly out. Perennial Cub killer Paul Goldschmidt singled to put the Diamondbacks on the board. Hammel escaped with no further damage and a shaky quality start.
The Cubs held onto their 2-1 lead until the eighth inning. Jean Segura’s one out double meant trouble for Pedro Strop. Strop forced Socrates Brito to ground out, and the Cubs elected to pitch to Paul Goldschmidt with two outs. Strop made some quality pitches, but Goldschmidt won the battle hitting a single. Goldschmidt tried to advance to second but was gunned down by Fowler on a close call to end the inning. The damage was done with the game tied on a déjà vu scoring play.
The Diamondbacks won this in walk off fashion in the bottom of the ninth. Travis Wood retired David Peralta, but Maddon elected to bring on the former Diamondback Trevor Cahill to face the former Cub Welington Castillo. Beef Castle won the battle of players facing their former teams with a solid single. Beef Castle would be replaced for a pinch runner Chris Owings. Jake Lamb hit a ground ball to second, but with the runner in motion the Cubs could only get one out at first. Yasmany Tomas singled to left and Jorge Soler‘s throw was up the line. Owings scored easily dropping the Cubs from first place in the Central.
It’s Hammel Time
Jason Hammel’s start was a Jekyll and Hyde performance. The final line on the night was solid. He registered the quality start going six innings with only one run allowed. He allowed seven base runners over those six innings, and there were many nail biting moments in this close game. The start of the game felt like Hammel might be more of second half Jason Hammel, but he settled in to retire eight in a row and striking out five in that stretch. Then Hammel lost the strike zone for a bit walking three of the next five batters he faced. He might have kept the shutout going despite that if not for Segura’s and Goldschmidt’s superhero performances.
Robbie Ray was even shakier, but the Cubs could not deliver the knock out blow despite the five free base runners granted in the third and fourth frame. Ray then settled in with the help of some interesting Cubs baserunner in the fifth. The Cubs only managed a single base runner after the double tootblan to end that frame.
Wild, Wacky Stuff on the Bases
I don’t even know how to describe that play. So here it is in gif form.
— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs) April 9, 2016
The Diamondbacks would return the favor in the bottom half of the inning. Nick Ahmed walked as Hammel looked on the brink of teetering. Hammel then threw an errant pick off attempt, but Ahmed was not content to take a single base. Anthony Rizzo fired a rocket across the field to nab the greedy Ahmed at third to end the fifth inning. Rizzo had his redemption.
Some Thoughts About the Post-Schwarber Cubs
The Cubs were finally held to under six runs in a ball game. It is tempting to draw big sweeping conclusions based on one game, but that is silly to do. Schwarber would have been the catcher in this game and he might have provided just a bit more offense than David Ross, but Graybeard had a solid day at the plate despite the 0 for 3 final batting line. The Cubs just could not get the big breakthrough hit despite many chances. Kris Bryant hit the ball hard with nothing to show for it. Heyward and Zobrist still look to be adjusting to their new team.
The defense was one aspect that really shone and particularly in the outfield. Jason Heyward made a few sparkling plays that shows why he is so valuable even when he is scuffling at the plate. Interestingly Jorge Soler was barely tested in the outfield. Only two balls were hit to him and those both occurred in the ninth inning. His one real change to affect the game on that side of the field was on the final play of the game. It would have taken a perfect throw to save the game, but it was far from that.
I didn’t want it to happen like this.
And if I wasn’t awful enough
— dabynsky (@dabynsky) April 8, 2016
Three Stars of Game
Third Star-Dexter Fowler (2-3)
Thank you Baltimore for not being willing to offer an opt out. That might have saved our season.
Second Star-Paul Goldschmidt (2-4, 2 RBI)
Paul Goldschmidt is really good. He is extra really good against the Cubs.
First Star-Jean Segura (3-4, 2 R)
Remember when Jean Segura was terrible and stole first base? Yeah, me neither.