For a time, it looked as if strong pitching would result in another win, but the D'backs scored a pair of runs off the Cubs bullpen and gave the Cubs their first loss of 2016, 3-2. (If you were wondering, the most games any Cubs team has won at the start of a season without a loss is seven, in 1934. That team finished third.)
Jason Hammel had a strong outing, which continued the pattern of good work from Cubs starting pitchers in the early going. Even with John Lackey's shaky outing Thursday, Cubs starters have thrown 26 innings and allowed eight earned runs, a 2.77 ERA. Hammel allowed the first two men he faced to reach base, but got out of the inning with a double play, and after that settled down. He was touched for a single run in the sixth on a Jean Segura single, stolen base and subsequent single by Paul Goldschmidt.
The Cubs fashioned their 2-0 lead in the third inning without a hit. Robbie Ray walked the bases loaded and Jason Heyward drew a fourth walk for the first run, then Ben Zobrist's groundout scored the second run. But the Cubs could score no more, even when they had runners on first and third with one out in the fifth. That led to this wacky double play:
Give the D'backs credit for good defense on that one. Fowler was trying to keep the rundown going long enough for the trailing runners to advance. Unfortunately, when he fell down, Anthony Rizzo was too far off first base, and D'backs right fielder David Peralta had sneaked in behind him. That was the last chance the Cubs had to score any runs, because they had just one baserunner after that. Tommy La Stella hit a pinch-double with one out in the seventh, but was stranded. Again, credit to the D'backs for stellar bullpen work.
For the Cubs, the pen had a rare failure. With two out in the eighth and a runner on second with first base open, Joe Maddon could have opted to intentionally walk Goldschmidt and bring in Travis Wood to pitch to the lefthanded-hitting Peralta. He didn't, and Goldschmidt singled, tying the game. Afterward:
#Cubs Maddon on Strop in 8th vs Goldy: "I felt really strongly about 'Stropy' right there and he got a pitch in the wrong spot"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) April 9, 2016
Give credit to Goldschmidt, who's one of the best hitters in the game. (Maddon, channeling Mike Quade in that quote.)
Trevor Cahill entered the tie game in the ninth, hoping to send the game to extra innings. Welington Castillo singled, and was replaced by pinch-runner Chris Owings, who advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Yasmany Tomas' single to end it.
Even in defeat there were some good things that happened in this game: Hammel settling down after those first two hitters reached base, and the patient Cubs drawing four walks in an inning, resulting in a pair of runs.
You can imagine that the team was playing with a lot on their minds after the Schwarber news. An example of what was said by his teammates:
#Cubs Hammel on Schwarber season-ending injury: "I feel like I lost my son"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) April 9, 2016
But this is a good team and as has been discussed elsewhere, they do have the depth to deal with an injury like this. Let's hope that depth doesn't get further tested, as it did for the 1985 Cubs, who lost their entire starting rotation to the DL at one time or another that year and had games started by the likes of Jay Baller, Steve Engel, Derek Botelho, Reggie Patterson, Johnny Abrego and the tattered remains of Larry Gura, who the team had dealt away 12 years earlier.
I don't think it will come to that for the 2016 Cubs. Not only is this team deep in talent, but it is well-managed by a man who strongly encourages versatility in his players. They'll be fine. Here are some comments from Maddon about the situation:
Here's one good thing about the rehab Schwarber faces:
Schwarber will undergo more tests in Mesa, Ariz., but will perform his rehab at Wrigley Field, where the Cubs have state-of-the-art medical and rehab equipment in their new clubhouse.
So not only will Schwarber have top-notch rehab facilities, but this will allow him to stay with the team and be a part of this season, even though he won't be able to play.
A big test for the entire team will be tonight, when Kyle Hendricks faces Zack Greinke. Greinke was pounded by the Rockies in his Arizona debut, so let's hope that continues. Meanwhile, Hendricks had an excellent spring, and I look for big things from him this year. The game preview will post at 5 p.m. CT.