John Lackey pitched as fine of a game as can be asked of him anymore, and his offense repaid him by scoring no runs. Not one. I don’t subscribe to the baseball superstition that a team needs to “save some for tomorrow” when they’re scoring a lot of runs, but when they plate eleven one night and get blanked the next, it’s hard not to give it at least some serious consideration.
The two Miami runs came in the way you’d expect: one from Giancarlo Stanton’s mighty swing, and one from a timely sacrifice by Christian Yellich.
Lackey worked pretty nicely through the first two innings until Stanton tagged him for a solo shot in the 3rd. After securing two outs, Lackey worked Stanton to a hitter-friendly 2-1 count and then hung a curveball for the Marlins slugger to abolish into the seats. 1-0, Miami.
The Cubs offense was mostly ineffectual, scattering singles here and there and even a double from Ian Happ, but spoiling each of these chances with measly groundouts, popups and poorly-timed strikeouts. Miami starter Jose Urena worked artfully to scatter their five hits across six innings, and he turned the game over to his bullpen to handle the final nine outs. Which they did, yielding only a walk and a single and then benefiting from double plays in the 8th and 9th innings to spoil anything the Cubs were to start.
The second Marlins run came in the 6th, owed to Dee Gordon’s leadoff single and then stolen base during Stanton’s at bat. Gordon made it to third on Miguel’s Montero’s throwing error, which set him up to score after Stanton was hit by a pitch and Yellich hit a first-pitch sacrifice fly to center.
Marlins win, 2-0.
Time to shift the order again?
Anthony Rizzo is the best hitter on the team, but we all must understand that leading off is not what’s right for him or for this team. He drew one walk tonight, and otherwise did not get on base. He’s done a masterful job during his tenure as a leadoff hitter, but it cannot be permanent.
With the hopeful return of Ben Zobrist to the lineup soon, it’s time for Rizzo to return to the second or third spot in the order and leave leading off to Zobrist.
Take both the ebb and flow
The same team that scored eleven last night couldn’t muster anything 24 hours later. To borrow from Vonnegut, “So it goes.”
Don’t read to much into it, and don’t declare that the Cubs are “back” when they score in double digits and then throw up your hands and declare them all lost souls when they get stymied. I’m tired of myself saying it, but the division is the most winnable in baseball, and the Cubs have some room to improve their roster at the deadline.
A focus on the positive – Justin Grimm
It’s minutiae and I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m fine with beating this drum: Justin Grimm is pitching like his old self since returning from being optioned to Iowa and returning almost a month ago. In that time, he has allowed just one earned run and only three hits. Tonight he pitched almost two innings and kept the offense in it, should they have been able to throw together a few runs in the late innings. They didn’t, but it should not take away from Grimm’s performance.
Three Stars of Game
Third Star- Ian Happ (2 for 4, 2B)
An unfortunate double play late in the game may have stifled a rally, but it appears as though Happ’s bat has found life again.
Second Star- Jose Urena (6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K)
The Cubs couldn’t figure him out, other than Kris Bryant, who walked three times, and Ian Happ, who got two hits.
First Star- Giancarlo Stanton (2 for 3, HR, 2B, RBI)
It was a typical Stanton night.