If this were a minor league game, I’d probably use one of my “Move along. Nothing to see here” dismissals of this game. If Al were writing this recap, he’d likely do one of his “Choose your own recap” pieces that would let you express your own disgust for this one.
But neither one of those is true, so I’m forced to write something about this game. And the only word that comes to mind is . . .
I can think of some other words, but they’d get me banned and then who would do the Minor League Wrap?
Brett Anderson started this game and it is abundantly clear that the Brett Anderson experiment is not working. Anderson allowed a double to the first batter he faced, Brett Gardner. Gardner then scored when the next batter, Aaron Hicks, then bunted. Anderson fielded the bunt and threw the ball away. Then Starlin Castro doubled (and Castro had a big day back at Wrigley) and after striking out Aaron Judge, Anderson allowed two singles and a double. That was it for Anderson, who exited with lower back tightness. Also with general terribleness. Felix Pena entered the game and got out of the inning, but by then it was already 5-0 Yankees. Even if the Cubs didn’t exactly give up at that point, the game was pretty much over before the Cubs even came to bat.
Anderson is clearly going to the disabled list because Joe Maddon can’t give him another start at this point and there’s no point in releasing the guy if you can put him on the disabled list. He was a good gamble this offseason: a pitcher with good stuff that has never been able to put it together because of a series of injuries; but it’s clear that the gamble has gone bust at this point. Maybe after a stint on the DL and a long rehab assignment in Iowa, that will change. But I doubt it and the Cubs can’t count on it.
There are two options for the starting rotation at the moment. One is Mike Montgomery, who looks like he should be able to start but has always been a lot better as a reliever than in the rotation. The other is Eddie Butler, who was in competition for the fifth starter job in Spring Training but ended up starting the year in Iowa. He came off the disabled list tonight and threw six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits to the Memphis Redbirds. Butler struck out six and walked no one. He has a 1.17 ERA in five starts for the I-Cubs this year.
I’d go with Butler. Moving Montgomery to the rotation would mean having to replace him in the pen as well.
Pena threw 3.2 innings and was OK except for giving up a monster two-run home run to Castro in the fourth. Then it was newly-promoted Rob Zastryzny (more on that in a second) to eat one for the team.
The Cubs did have a little fight in them. They turned an 8-0 deficit into an 8-3 one with two runs in the fifth and one in the seventh. But the Yankees solved Zastryzny for three runs in the eighth, making it 11-3 putting an end to any remote hopes of a comeback. The Cubs did score three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single for Javier Baez and a two-run infield single by Miguel Montero.
At least you can say this team never quits. Or you could, except that Montero stayed in the game to pitch the top of the ninth. Montero, of course, was the only Cubs pitcher to not allow a run tonight. He walked two batters and his strategy of getting the Yankees to hit the ball really hard right at a fielder seems to work for him.
The only thing you can really do after a game like this is turn the page and try to win tomorrow. Also, don’t let Brett Anderson make another start for a while.
One last time: ugh.
Fun Fact: Joe Buck said on the Fox broadcast that Aaron Hicks became the first Yankee to have four hits in a game against the Cubs since Hall of Famer Bill Dickey in the 1938 World Series. OK, that fact isn’t actually any fun.
Sad Goodbyes: The Cubs bullpen has been stretched lately as the starters have not been going deep in games. Not just Anderson, either. So the Cubs promoted Rob Zastryzny from Iowa as bullpen protection and to make that move, the Cubs had to designate outfielder Matt Szczur for assignment. I think the odds of Szczur passing through waivers are pretty much zero. Cardinals outfielders are dropping like flies, for example, with three of them hurt over the past three games. But there is a very good chance Szczur doesn’t last long enough for the Cards to claim him.
I’ve been following Szczur’s career since the day the Cubs drafted him in 2010, and I have yet to hear anyone say anything bad about him as a person. Sure, I’ve heard “he doesn’t hit for enough power for an outfielder,” but I’ve never heard anything negative about his makeup or him as a teammate or as a person. He became a minor celebrity in the World Series last year because he lent his bat to Anthony Rizzo. We will miss him in Chicago.
The only good news here is that Szczur is likely going to go to a team where he will get more playing time, which will give him a chance to prove what he can and cannot do. Also, he will always have a place in Chicago history as one of the men who broke the 108-year drought. Godspeed, Matt.