I spent the first inning of this game figuring how I could word a recap asking why the Cubs would arrange their post-All-Star rotation so that Edwin Jackson, who had a career 17.40 ERA in Coors Field, would start in Coors Field.
Why? Because Jackson was getting pounded all over the yard in the first inning, allowing two runs, and even the foul balls and the outs were hit hard.
And then Jackson settled down. He got a ton of ground ball outs and kept his pitch count very low, winding up with a 93-pitch, seven-inning effort, one of his better ones of the season, and Anthony Rizzo's homer and Darwin Barney's sacrifice fly in the sixth inning tied things up. Say! Maybe Jackson and the Cubs can get out of Denver with a series win!
Not so fast. Jackson got in trouble in the bottom of the sixth with a couple of two-out walks, and then the fun (well, fun for Rockies fans, at least) started. Nolan Arenado singled, which was likely to score Carlos Gonzalez from second base. Nevertheless, Junior Lake thought he had a chance to throw him out at the plate.
Unfortunately, Lake's throw went halfway to Nebraska. At first, with the ball bouncing all over the place, it looked like both baserunners and Arenado would score, but the ball wound up in the Rockies' dugout. The umpires conferred, allowed two runs to score, and sent Arenado back to second base, correctly, because he hadn't passed first base when the throw was made and by rule, an overthrow out of play entitled him to two bases.
Happy day, if you're a Rockies fan. Not so much for the Cubs, who dropped a 4-3 decision to the Rox and lost their first series in more than two weeks, since the series in Oakland at the beginning of this month. They're also now 11-21 in one-run games, exactly matching their overall deficit to the .500 mark (43-53). The error by Lake allowing the second run to score on that sixth-inning play wound up being the decisive run.
You probably don't want to hear the rest, which included the Cubs leaving 11 men on base and going 0-for-7 with RISP. This is a familiar story, I know, and something they have to address, somehow. Good news: Starlin Castro had four hits Sunday, including one in the ninth inning, where he scored the Cubs' third run; maybe he's starting a run back to respectability. Castro's BA is now the highest it's been since June 8.
I did want to mention something Cub-related involving another team. The Cubs hold the major-league record for most consecutive scoreless innings, 48; that was set June 15-21, 1968, when the Cubs didn't score in the last eight innings June 15, then were shut out four straight times (including a 10-inning blanking) and then the first two innings of a game they wound up winning, June 21.
I mention this because the Marlins are within a little more than one game of possibly breaking this record. The Marlins got shut out for the third straight time in Milwaukee Sunday afternoon, a 13-inning blanking by the Brewers; the Marlins haven't scored since the All-Star break ended and they also didn't score in the last six innings of their final game before the break. That gives Miami a 37-inning scoreless streak (a franchise record); one more regulation-length shutout and three innings of the next game would do it. That's one negative record held by the Cubs that I'd love to see broken. (Incidentally, it'll be up to the Cubs' opponent this weekend, the Rockies, to do it; Miami is in Denver starting Monday.)
Also, after the 1968 Cubs broke that streak and won June 21, 1968, they lost seven in a row and 11 of 15... before then having a fantastic 48-33 second half, becoming the only team in franchise history to finish over .500 after being 10 games under.
This year's team? They're not good enough to do that. But they seem at times agonizingly close to running off a decent-sized winning streak. It'll be tough to do that at Arizona, which has been a house of pain for Cubs teams for the last several seasons.