There, I’ve got that out of my system.
You, the Cubs fan, have now seen something that had never been done before by a Cubs starting pitcher, at least not in the baseball-reference era (since 1913).
Jon Lester did not complete the first inning and allowed 10 runs. That had never happened before. Oh, yes, I know that only four of the runs were earned due to Kris Bryant’s error that might have been an inning-ending double-play ball.
Nevertheless, all 10 of them counted and Lester not only had the worst start of his career, but the worst of any Cub starter’s career dating back 104 years, at least by that measure. Said Lester:
#Cubs Lester on his abbreviated outing: "It's embarrassing."— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 9, 2017
Gee, Jon, ya think?
After that horrific first inning, the first double-digit inning allowed by the Cubs since the Mets put up an 11-run sixth inning July 16, 2006, Sunday’s game was fairly even, with the Pirates plating four more runs and the Cubs pushing three into the scoring column, the last one in the ninth inning after many of the regulars had left the game.
Want more? Because I have more:
#Cubs: first time allowing 10+ first inning runs in a game since 8/7/1998 at STL (16-3 loss)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 9, 2017
They allowed 11 first inning runs that game.https://t.co/F0cdG8cyOx— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 9, 2017
#Cubs first inning runs allowed— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 9, 2017
2015: 75 in 162 games (42 with 1+)
2016: 71 in 162 games (40 with 1+)
2017: 80 in 88 games (38 with 1+)
#Cubs record in blowouts (games decided by 5+ runs)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 9, 2017
2017: 10-14 (including a loss today)
Francisco Cervelli is 6th player in modern era (since 1900) with a 1st inning grand slam from No. 2 spot (1st since Mike Trout in 2013).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 9, 2017
The last time the Pirates scored 10 runs in the top of the 1st inning, Barry Bonds hit a 3-run HR in his 2nd at-bat of the frame (6/8/1989).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 9, 2017
The last of those notes brings up an interesting story. After the Pirates scored those 10 runs June 6, 1989, Jim Rooker, a former big-league pitcher who was then a Pirates broadcaster, said this on the air:
Rooker turned to his broadcast partner John Sanders and said: “If we don’t win this one, I don’t think I’d want to on that plane ride home, Matter of fact, if we don’t win, I’ll walk back to Pittsburgh!” (I had interviewed Jim for Seamheads.com’s ‘Around the Bases’ and he explained this quote was born from frustration. What he actually meant was the Pirates had not won a game on that particular road trip, so if you are going to win one, this is the type that you need to win).
Well, you can guess the rest. The Pirates did lose 15-11, and Rooker turned the walk into a charity event, raising funds for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Bob Prince Charities. More details are at that link.
Rooker’s long retired from broadcasting and as far as I know, no Pirates broadcaster made that promise during Sunday’s game. It would have been a lot longer walk from Chicago to Pittsburgh than from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.
Why am I telling you this? Because certainly, you don’t really want to hear much about this game. Lester was awful, the rest of the pitching staff did all right, I suppose, allowing four more runs in 8⅓ innings, not that any of that mattered much.
Here, I have a highlight for you, Victor Caratini’s first major-league hit:
Congratulations to Victor, who went 3-for-3 after being subbed in for Anthony Rizzo (Willson Contreras moved to first base). Caratini also picked up his first big-league RBI with a double with two out in the ninth.
The Cubs fell 5½ games behind the Brewers in the N.L. Central race as the Brewers defeated the Yankees. Guess what? The Cardinals are also 5½ games back, now tied with the Cubs, as they defeated the Mets Sunday afternoon.
A 2-4 homestand and losing eight of their last 12 is not a real positive way to go into an All-Star break where pretty much everyone in the Cubs clubhouse, players and coaching staff, could use the time off. Joe Maddon and his staff won’t get that, as they are heading to Miami for the game, as is Wade Davis as the Cubs’ sole representative on the roster. I found this note about Davis as the only All-Star Cub interesting:
3/3 Average defending WS champion slots on ASG rosters: 4.89. 2017 @cubs got snubbed big time.— David Hallstrom (@dehallstrom) July 7, 2017
I don’t agree with the conclusion drawn here. The Cubs didn’t get “snubbed.” This year’s version didn’t deserve more than one All-Star.
And for that, we should probably be grateful. This team, hopefully, will use the time off to detach from baseball for a few days, rest and recharge and be ready for the second half’s start Friday. Maddon is ever-confident:
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm still very confident. I believe in our guys and I'm eager to see us coming out of the break"— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) July 9, 2017
It won’t be easy as this team has dug itself a pretty big hole. Nevertheless, I concur with Joe. The talent is there. Perhaps a move or two will be made in the three weeks before the break.
Interesting note: I had assumed that Lester would be the starter Friday in Baltimore on his normal four days’ rest, and after throwing 53 (!) pitches to record two outs Sunday, he still could have done that. But that’s not going to happen:
Beyond that, we’ll see. The Orioles do not yet have pitchers listed for the weekend series.
And stick around here over the break, as we’ll have All-Star related threads during the festivities, and many other features as we take stock of the season so far, and look forward to what is hopefully a much better second half.
After Sunday’s debacle, there really is nowhere to go but up.