What a treat it was to hear Vin Scully call one inning of the Cubs/Dodgers Sunday matchup on CSN Chicago. It figured, didn't it, that the inning went quickly -- all three Cubs hitters struck out, and after a Dodgers single, the Cubs turned a double play to end the frame.
We also learned during this telecast that Vin won't be broadcasting Dodgers playoff games, should they make it. That's a shame. Here's hoping he changes his mind.
A salute from me to Vin, who is a national treasure. He'll be missed.
The game, unfortunately, didn't match the sublime calls of Scully (though he, as the Dodgers' TV voice, certainly would have been happy with the result). It was lost in the bottom of the eighth when Trevor Cahill hit Andrew Toles with one out. Howie Kendrick hit a slow roller down the third-base line, which Cahill then threw into right field, putting runners on second and third. Corey Seager was intentionally walked, one of the few times such a move actually makes sense, and then Carl Edwards Jr. was summoned.
Edwards struck out Justin Turner and then got Adrian Gonzalez to hit a ground ball to third base. Javier Baez took the short throw to second instead of throwing to first, and the throw was just enough offline that Seager was safe, and a run scored. Joe Maddon challenged the play, and it was closer on the replay than it appeared at first. But there wasn't enough video evidence to overturn, it was ruled "call stands," and so the Dodgers got a run.
Javy makes the hard plays look easy. But he has made wrong choices on routine plays like this before. That throw should probably have gone to first base, and the inning would have been over.
Instead, the Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the ninth and lost the game 1-0, and come home two series losses and a 5-4 road trip. Tough way to lose one. It was the sixth time the Cubs had been shut out this year, and three of those were by 1-0 scores.
Before all that, there had been some pretty awful ball-and-strike umpiring by David Rackley, particularly in the sixth and seventh innings, when the Cubs had a chance to break the game open:
Now, before you accuse me of bias in citing these three examples, it's true that Rackley gave the Cubs some calls during this game as well (overall count: three in the Cubs' favor, five against, via @CubsUmp). He seemed to be calling a very wide strike zone, particularly on the outer half to righthanded hitters, and good pitch-framing by David Ross and Yasmani Grandal might have fooled Rackley into calling some pitches strikes that really weren't.
This helped lead to a multitude of strikeouts, particularly by Dodgers rookie Brock Stewart, who had allowed four home runs to the Reds in his last start. This time, he gave up just two hits in five innings and struck out eight, which was a career high for him, never mind that his big-league career currently consists of three starts.
Jon Lester was dealing as well. He allowed just three singles in six strong innings, with a pair of walks and six K's. But the Cubs could not score for him. Their best shot to score while Lester was still in the game was in the top of the sixth -- the inning where two of the bad calls above happened. Kris Bryant led off with a double and went to third on an infield out. After Ben Zobrist walked, Addison Russell popped up and then Jason Heyward, who had hits in his last five at-bats and finally has begun to swing the bat better, did this:
I mean, you really can't hit the ball much better than that and Gonzalez made a spectacular grab. If Heyward keeps hitting the ball like that, good things are going to happen for him offensively.
Again, a really tough way to lose one, but the Cubs now come home, where they are 45-19 and 19-5 since the All-Star break. They'll be just fine.
The Cubs' magic number to clinch the N.L. Central was reduced to 20 with the Cardinals' loss to the Athletics -- it was noted on the broadcast that St. Louis went 1-9 against A.L. teams at home this year -- and their division lead remained at 14 games.
Monday, the Cubs open a series against the Pirates at Wrigley. The Bucs are hot after sweeping a four-game series from the Brewers in Milwaukee. Jake Arrieta goes for the Cubs and rookie Steven Brault will make his third big-league start for Pittsburgh.