So how about we just pretend that the eighth inning of Saturday's second game didn't happen?
Great! That means the Cubs lost just 4-2 and...
Aw, heck. We can't do that. It happened, and the good thing is that the worst inning Cubs pitchers had all year didn't count for more than one loss. 13-2 Cardinals was the final score, splitting the doubleheader and even that's something positive because the Cubs had not even won one game of a doubleheader in more than two years, since August 18, 2012, when they split a pair with the Reds in Cincinnati.
Baby steps. Right?
Truth be told, until that eighth inning, the game was pretty decent and the Cubs still had a shot at it, going into that inning trailing just 4-1. Tsuyoshi Wada got himself in trouble with walks in the first inning and this was a game where the Cubs really missed having Anthony Rizzo at first base. A relay throw from Starlin Castro that could have been an inning-ending double play wasn't handled by Chris Valaika at first base; the error allowed a run to score. Rizzo, four inches taller than Valaika and a much more accomplished defensive first baseman, would have had to stretch to make the play, but I think he would have had it and Wada would have gotten out of the inning unscored-upon.
Would that have made a difference later on? Maybe. The Cubs had scored a run in the top of the first inning on yet another RBI extra-base hit by Jorge Soler, and here's yet another amazing thing about Soler in his first week in the big leagues:
Elias says since the RBI became official stat in 1920, #Cubs Jorge Soler is 1st player in MLB w/Xtra base hit and RBI in each of 1st 4 Gs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) August 31, 2014
Very, very impressive, that fact is.
Anyway, Wada settled down and nearly got the Cubs through the sixth inning in that 1-1 tie... except for one bad pitch he threw to Matt Holliday with two out and two runners on in the fifth. Holliday smacked it for a three-run homer and we surely could have avoided a lot of pain and suffering had the game just ended there instead of adding on what was the disaster of the eighth inning, and no more will I say about the nine-run inning except to name the culprits: Kyuji Fujikawa, Zac Rosscup and even Carlos Villanueva, who didn't get any runs charged to his own record but allowed runs in three different ways: bases-loaded hit-by-pitch, sacrifice fly, and run-scoring single. An equal-opportunity inherited-runners-allowed guy, if you will, and it could have been even worse if Carlos V. hadn't managed to get Oscar Taveras to ground into an inning-ending double play. The Cubs managed a consolation run in the ninth on three singles and a groundout. Big whoop.
But hey, like I said: it only counts as one notch in the loss column, and the Cubs still have a chance to win the series with a victory in Sunday afternoon's game. The Cubs have won only one series in St. Louis since the end of the 2010 season (last August when they took two of three) and are overall 11-25 at Busch Stadium since the start of 2011.
Enough of that, I'd say. Win Sunday and go home with a winning trip to two places that haven't been kind to the Cubs in the recent past. Travis Wood will pitch against John Lackey at 1:15 p.m. CT; the game preview will post at 11:45 a.m. CT.