Diamondbacks 7, Cubs 5: Ruining The Party

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs had this game won. And then they lost it. Sound familiar?

This recap of the 100th-anniversary game at Wrigley Field -- well, most of it, as you'll see -- is adapted from the recap that appeared in the Chicago Tribune the day after the very first game at what was then known as Weeghman Park, written by Sam Weller, of the Chifeds' 9-1 win over visiting Kansas City. The names have been changed and details modified to fit what happened at Wrigley Wednesday afternoon, when the Cubs lost to the Diamondbacks 7-5. I retained as much of the 100-year-old writing style as I could, to give you a flavor of what baseball fans would have read a century ago.

Chicago took the Federal league to its bosom Wednesday and claimed it as a mother would claim a long lost child. With more frills and enthusiasm than ever prevailed at a baseball opening here Rick(y) Renteria and his Cubs celebrated the 100th anniversary of the north side park before a throng of fans that filled the old ballyard, though somewhat short of capacity, and the Chicago boys had a lead before Kirk Gibson's Arizona team won it in the ninth, 7 to 5. The north side cheered and was ready to be maddened with delight; instead they were just maddened.

Jeff Samardzija, the sterling flinger of the Chicago team, was on the slab and in great form. He held the enemy to seven scattered base hits and simply breezed into the eighth innin without being in any real danger at any time. His mates, who had won the first two games of this series, continued the hitting and whaled the ball for five base hits for a total of nine bases. Justin Ruggiano, formerly of the Marlins, made himself a favorite with all by clouting a home run over the right wall, a drive that would have cleared the fence in most any old ball park.

In the second round one run was added off Samardzija's delivery. With no one gone Miguel Montero walked and Aaron Hill singled. Two force plays sent Montero home, but further counting was prevented when little Tony Campana grounded the ball to shortstop.

Three were put over for Chicago in the fifth. None were gone when Mike Olt and Welington Castillo singled. Then Darwin Barney made a bunt, which resulted in a run scoring when the ball was thrown away. Samardzija then hit a fly ball, sending Castillo home.

Two more for Chicago in the sixth appeared to clinch the victory. With none gone Anthony Rizzo walked and scored on Ruggiano's blast to the Sheffield avenue side. The home squad led 5 to 2 heading to the seventh inning and all appeared well.

Chicago had the ball game won, however, before Pedro Strop was stopped partly by the hand of the umpire. Pedro issued a four-pitch base on balls, and then a baseball went toward Starlin Castro at short stop. Castro's fielding did not, unfortunately, measure up to par. He did not field the ball well, and then the umpire squeezed the strike zone, to the loud booing of the crowd. Another base on balls loaded the bases, and....

******

... now we return to 2014. The biggest issue I had with that ninth inning wasn't necessarily Strop's pitching, because it appeared he had pinch-hitter Eric Chavez struck out. Between that and Castro's error, Strop would have had the inning ended long before Martin Prado's single made it 5-4. And then...

Well, seriously. Justin Ruggiano was in this game because a lefty started, and Ruggiano homered off Wade Miley, his first dinger of the year. That's all good. But what is Ruggiano still doing in the game in the ninth inning? The Cubs had three competent defensive outfielders on the bench -- Ryan Kalish, Ryan Sweeney and Nate Schierholtz. Why wasn't one of them in the game? Any of those men would have made the play on Miguel Montero's single that tied the game -- catching that ball would have ended it. And I believe any of them would have caught sinking fly ball hit by Aaron Hill that Ruggiano couldn't handle. That dropped for a triple and completed Arizona's ridiculous five-run ninth.

Ruggiano was injured on the play and will have his hamstring examined.

I'm not so sure I would have brought James Russell into the game, either, but there's that reflexive lefty-lefty matchup that you "have" to do if you're a manager, otherwise you open yourself to second-guessing.

There was a lot of that going on after the D'backs ruined the Cubs' 100th-anniversary party. Honestly, it's what you get when two bad teams meet each other -- a large amount of bad baseball. In fact, the way this game was played was a perfect summation of the 100 years of Wrigley Field history -- the first part of the game, well done by the home team, reflecting the great play by the Cubs for the first few decades of the park's life. Then, the ninth, resembling the play of the Cubs over the last five years.

Wrigley Field's second hundred years begins tomorrow. Edwin Jackson faces Mike Bolsinger, who will be making his second major-league start. As I had guessed before this series began, it will very likely wind up with a split.

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