The Cubs lost in so many ways today. The hits began with the news that Javier Báez’s thumb wasn’t just a minor strain needing a few days rest but was indeed a hairline fracture. That put the Cubs star shortstop 2019 season in jeopardy. The Cubs then lost a game that never trailed until the final swing of the game. The game was a Rorschach test for fans who could certainly find whatever is the preferred target for Cubs ineptitude to point to as the team’s undoing. Joe Maddon pulled his returning from injury starter after just 72 pitches. After Darvish had twirled five shutout innings, the Cubs bullpen only managed to place one more zero on the board. The offense was anemic in every way, with very few scoring chances and most of them squandered. And after all of that in the game the Cardinals won yet again to extend their lead back to a season high 3.5 games.
Yu Darvish was very good. The starter, whose method for dealing with forearm tightness apparently is crushing a bunch of pain medicine, yielded a mere four base runners over five frames. He struck out seven Brewers in his outing. The Brewers really only managed two scoring chances against Darvish. The first came early with Yasmani Grandal singling and Christian Yelich drawing a base on balls with one out in the bottom of the first. Darvish struck out Eric Thames, and Ben Gamel flew out to end the threat.
The Cubs offense managed to get a base runner in the first inning against noted Cubs killer Gio Gonzalez, but could do little in the first two innings. The Cubs did threaten in the third inning. Victor Caratini lead off with a single. Yu Darvish bunted to advance Caratini into scoring position, but Grandal pounced on the short bunt attempt quickly to fire to second. The throw didn’t appear to beat the Victory Carrot at second, but either way the ball was dropped, and the Cubs were in business. “Leadoff” hitter Albert Almora Jr. bounced into a double play, and Nicholas Castellanos bounced back to the pitcher to end the promising inning.
Darvish was in a little trouble in the fourth inning. Christian Yelich singled through the right side and then stole second base. Darvish would retire the next six batters he faced to complete a triumphant personal return. Things were looking up when Addison Russell took advantage of how well the ball carries at Miller. The shortstop hit a ball that was just over the fence in dead center to put the Cubs ahead 1-0, and Darvish left the game with the lead.
Freddy Peralta took over for Gio Gonzalez in the sixth inning. Almora grounded out to start the inning, but Nicholas Castellanos ripped a double. He reached third on a wild pitch. Peralta then struck out the next five Cubs batters he faced to keep the Cubs at a single run through the seventh inning. Kyle Ryan was summoned to face the parade of lefties in the Brewers lineup. He retired Trent Grisham and Grandal to start it, but he walked Yelich and Thames to keep the inning alive. Ben Gamel continued to do his best Kirk Nieuwenhuis impression with a game tying single. Steve Cishek was called on to face Lorenzo Cain and the steady veteran righty did his job. He kept the game level heading into the eighth inning.
Junior Guerra took over in the top of the eighth, and he walked Caratini. Ben Zobrist delivered a pinch hit single. Drew Pomeranz and Ian Happ were the next September baseball game matchup, and this one worked out in the Cubs favor with Ian Happ drawing a bases loading walk. Josh Hader was the final Brewers pitcher, and he struck out Castellanos for the first out. Anthony Rizzo managed to coax a run scoring walk to put the Cubs back ahead 2-1. Kris Bryant popped out to third, and David Bote struck out with the Cubs failing to tack on.
That loomed large when David Phelps threw one pitch to Yasmani Grandal and the game was re-tied. Derek Holland was called on to face Yelich and walked him. Rowan Wick finished the eighth. It took some work with the Brewers loading the bases, but Wick managed to finish the eighth with the score 2-2. Hader retired the side in order in the ninth.
Brandon Kintzler was given the bottom of the ninth and he did what he does, inducing a groundball right away. Unfortunately Addison Russell‘s throw was nowhere near first base and allowed Tyler Austin to reach first. Grisham flew out to left, and Grandal struck out swinging for the second out. Yelich ripped a double into the left field corner to score the winning run and further ruin the night.
I know I’ve used this bit before, but it makes me laugh. And I/we could use a laugh at this point.