It wasn't really just "one" bad pitch that ruined the evening for Travis Wood and the Cubs Friday night in New York.
The one pitch I'm referring to was the one that Mets outfielder Eric Campbell sent into the left-field seats at Citi Field for a three-run homer in the fourth inning, erasing a 2-0 Cubs lead.
But several other pitches in that inning were the ones that got Wood in trouble, the ones that resulted in a pair of walks to David Wright and Lucas Duda leading off the frame. One out later, Campbell's home run gave the Mets a 3-2 advantage, and that wound up being the final score.
I must confess that Campbell had not made much of a dent in my big-league knowledge before Friday night, even though he'd started one of the three games the Mets played in Wrigley Field back in June.
Perhaps before this year, many Mets fans hadn't heard of him either, because he had been toiling for six years in the Mets' farm system after being chosen in the eighth round in 2008 without ever getting so much as a September callup. His minor-league record doesn't show anything really special -- not much power, not much stolen-base speed, nothing out of the ordinary except a pretty good on-base percentage (.380 over 2,609 plate appearances).
He hit a home run in his seventh big-league game against the Dodgers back on May 21, and then went 128 plate appearances without one until his blast off Wood.
As noted above, you could have shut your TV, radio, computer or mobile device off after that and you'd know as much about the score as you do now. The Cubs, who had hit Zack Wheeler pretty well over the first couple of innings, had no hits after the fourth, just four baserunners via walk. Wood himself had drawn a walk and scored the second (and last) Cubs run of the game in the third inning. Instead, they spent a great deal of the rest of the game striking out, 14 more times, which gives them a ghastly total of 141 K's in 14 games this month -- averaging 10 per game, and with a total of 1,063 for the season (8.79 per game) they are on pace for 1,423 for the season. That would demolish the team's single-season record (1,269), set in 2002.
Don't worry. That would still be well short of the major-league record, which is 1,535, set last year by the Astros, and also fewer than the National League record, 1,529, set by the 2010 Diamondbacks.
Javier Baez struck out twice more, though he also singled and made a couple of nice plays in the field. Strikeouts aren't the worst thing in the world; in some ways they can be beneficial, as working a count before striking out makes the opposing pitcher throw more pitches than grounding to second on the first pitch, or hitting into a double play. K's are up across the major leagues in general; two teams (Marlins and Astros) have even more than the Cubs do. Still, it would be nice to see the Cubs make more contact.
Well. I see I've digressed quite far from the original theme of this recap and meandered a bit, kind of like Friday night's game itself. Saturday's should provide some interest, as Dan Straily makes his Cubs debut against the Mets' Jon Niese. Last night it was announced that Junior Lake would be demoted to Triple-A Iowa to make room for Straily; you can continue to discuss that move at this link. Straily's supposed to go back to Iowa following the game. The big question then: who comes back from Iowa to replace him? I can't imagine it'll be a pitcher, as that would leave the Cubs with just three bench players.
As always, we await developments.