clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mariners 4, Cubs 1: Aroldis Chapman's 1st Cubs Blown Save

Plus, the Cubs couldn't hit.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

You didn't think Aroldis Chapman was going to retire every single batter he faced, did you?

Something like what happened to Chapman in the Cubs' 4-1 loss to the Mariners was bound to happen sooner or later. Turned out to be sooner, as Leonys Martin turned on a 100 mile per hour Chapman fastball with two runners on base. The double gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead. Then Chapman couldn't hold Martin on second base and made a poor throw as Martin stole third, after which he uncorked his first wild pitch as a Cub to make it 3-1 Seattle.

Really, that inning couldn't have turned out worse for Chapman. So let's hope he got all the bad stuff out of the way in facing Martin and Robinson Cano, who he eventually struck out to end the inning. Chapman entered to another loud ovation and Wrigley was rocking to his first few triple-digit pitches. But after Martin's double, it was as if all the air got sucked out of the place. Suddenly a full Wrigley house was very, very quiet. Some people got up and left, even with the Cubs down only two going into the bottom of the eighth.

In reality, though, it wasn't all Chapman's fault. Jake Arrieta threw seven outstanding innings, allowing just two hits, a walk and one batter who reached on a dropped third strike. He'd thrown only 89 pitches through seven. And then Jake couldn't find the plate against the first two hitters in the eighth, walking both of them. That created a tough situation for Hector Rondon, coming in with runners on base. He got one out on a sacrifice and another one on a play at the plate, a play that was reviewed and wound up confirmed:

Nice tag by Miguel Montero to keep the game, at the time, with a 1-0 Cubs lead.

That was the third review within just a few minutes. The Cubs scored their first run as a result of this review:

Dexter Fowler, who had walked and gone to second on the Cubs' first hit of the game, a Kris Bryant single, had then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Javier Baez bounced to short, the throw came home, Fowler was called out but the call was overturned. You can see Fowler's hand touch the plate, and it's not even certain that catcher Mike Zunino ever tagged him. Bryant took third on the play, and that led to yet another review.

Miley threw to first on what looked like a routine pickoff throw. Bryant broke for the plate and was called safe. This one didn't look like it had enough to overturn at first, but you can see Zunino's glove touch Kris just before his foot touched the plate.

If that run scores, it's 2-0 and the Cubs would have still had the inning going. Maybe that changes things; maybe they score more, or maybe Rondon starts the eighth instead of coming in with runners on base.

One further Mariners run scored in the ninth after a leadoff single and two groundouts put a runner on third. Addison Russell threw away what should have been a fairly routine ground ball (with new catcher Chris Iannetta running), and the unearned run made it 4-1.

Beyond all the fielding and pitching mishaps, the Cubs simply didn't hit. They had a chance with two runners on and one out in the eighth, with Anthony Rizzo pinch-hitting for Chapman (after Joe Maddon gave him the day off from starting). But Edwin Diaz, who also can hit 100, slipped a slider past Rizzo for strike three, and then Fowler also struck out to end the inning. The Cubs got one man on base against Mariners closer Steve Cishek (a single by Ben Zobrist), but Cishek wound up striking out the side. Mariners pitchers struck out 14 Cubs on the afternoon, and only one Cub reached base (on an error by Kyle Seager) in the first six innings. That was Bryant, who promptly got himself picked off -- yet another baserunning mishap for Kris, who's seemed to have a lot of them in the last week or so.

In addition to the defeat, the Cubs made news Saturday by announcing that they were pushing Kyle Hendricks (and the rest of the rotation) back a day and adding Brian Matusz to the roster to start Sunday night against Seattle:

The last time Matusz faced the Mariners didn't go very well:

But Jake vouches for Matusz:

Arrieta and Matusz came up together in the Orioles system; Matusz was their No. 1 pick (fourth overall, one pick before Buster Posey) in 2007, and Jake was selected in the fifth round in 2008. They were big-league teammates in Baltimore from 2010-13. Matusz hasn't started a major-league game in more than four years, since July 1, 2012, but he made two decent starts at Iowa, throwing 9⅓ innings, allowing seven hits and two runs and striking out 11.

My feeling is that this is simply a test to see if Matusz can help the Cubs out in the bullpen; I don't see a six-man rotation being employed for any length of time. With an off day next Thursday and also a week from Monday, this gives all the starters a break, and also allows Joe Maddon to set up his best starters for the Cardinals series August 11-14.

I assume Grimm (along with Tommy La Stella, who was optioned on Friday) will be back in September.

In the meantime, the Cubs have a series to win, which they can do Sunday. Matusz will make his Cubs debut and face Felix Hernandez. A reminder that Sunday's game is at 7:05 p.m. CT and on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. This game was originally a 1:20 p.m. game and all the season tickets and most of the single-game tickets will have that time printed on them -- it wasn't changed to "TBD" until March 9 and wasn't set as ESPN's game until a couple of weeks ago.

Hopefully, the team will bring their bats, which were mostly missing on Saturday.