During the Cubs' first nine games, the hitting was excellent. And the pitching was excellent.
You'll note I haven't mentioned fielding, and up to now that's because Cubs fielding hasn't really been a discussable issue. Errors, obviously, aren't the best way to measure fielding in the modern era, but before Friday, the Cubs had made just two of them -- one by Kris Bryant, one by Jason Hammel.
They tripled that season total in an ugly 6-1 loss to the Rockies in which four errors were charged, and it really should have been five, except the official scorer took pity on Anthony Rizzo in the eighth inning, when Rizzo booted a ground ball that wound up scoring a run.
Kyle Hendricks didn't pitch too badly, but it was his error booting a ground ball in the second inning that helped lead to the Rockies' first run, after a pair of singles. Even after that, Hendricks managed to keep the game close until the sixth inning, when three Rockies hits and a double play made it 3-0. A fifth-inning error by Bryant didn't lead to any further scoring, but when Bryant threw a sacrifice attempt by Brandon Barnes away in the seventh, that allowed the Rockies' fourth run to score.
Addison Russell made a throwing error on a ground ball by Gerardo Parra in the Rockies' two-run seventh, those runs charged to reliever Clayton Richard. Had the scorer made what I felt would have been the right call on the infield tapper that Rizzo booted, one of those runs would also have been unearned.
Not that it really mattered; the Cubs sneaked just one run across the plate, in the seventh inning, after a single, a walk and a fly ball put runners on first and third. Tommy La Stella beat a potential double-play relay to first base and Jorge Soler scored the only Cubs run of the game.
For whatever reason, the Cubs just couldn't get anything going against Chad Bettis. Bryant, who was successful on 13 of 17 stolen-base attempts last year, got thrown out trying to steal second after a leadoff single in the second inning. It's the second time he's been thrown out this week, and neither one was close. That's either a bad jump, good scouting, good throwing by the opposing catcher, or a combination of all three.
The Cubs had another decent chance to score in the fifth when the score was still just 1-0. With runners on first and third and one out, Hendricks attempted a squeeze, but Soler was thrown out easily.
The game nearly ended on an immaculate inning (three strikeouts on nine pitches), as Justin Miller threw eight straight strikes to begin the Cubs ninth. After ball one to Miguel Montero, Miggy fouled off a couple of pitches before striking out to end it.
At least Cubs pitchers seemed to figure out how to stop Rockies phenom Trevor Story, who went 0-for-5 and struck out twice. The way appears to be: don't throw him any fastballs.
I haven't included any video highlights here ... primarily because there really aren't any worth including. Hopefully, that changes tomorrow.
I can say this: it was a gorgeous afternoon for mid-April, not a cloud in the sky, and though the wind blowing off the lake made it cool in the shade, it was quite pleasant while the sun was out. At this time of year the sun ducks behind the upper deck for my seat in the left-field corner just before 4:00, so the last inning or so got a little chilly.
You know, it's funny how our expectations change. The Cubs' 8-1 start has led us all to believe they'll win every game, or at least be competitive every day. This one was a stinker, and every team, even 100-game winners, are going to have a few of these over the course of a long season. I doubt we'll see as poor a defensive performance out of this Cubs team for the rest of this year.
Josh perhaps summed it up best in this tweet:
It's amazing. The Cubs are about to start the season 8-2 and I'm disappointed. #highexpectations— Josh Timmers (@Cubsminorswrap) April 15, 2016
That's how I feel, but like the Cubs, I'll shake this off and be ready to watch them win Saturday, when they've got a favorable pitching matchup: Jake Arrieta vs. Christian Bergman. Saturday game time is 1:20 CT.