Despite the fact that the @CubsUmp Twitter account was silent on the final pitch of this game, that was not a strike on Ben Zobrist, Mark Wegner.
"I said, 'you can't end the game on that,'" Zobrist said. "He said he had it as a strike.
"That's all he can do. If we want to change something like that, we're going to have to have an electronic strike zone because umpires are human beings and going to make mistakes. A tough situation for that to happen, but I think he's probably going to look at it and not be too happy with himself, either. I think the league will have to look at when you start ending games and games turn on one pitch like that."
Glad you’ve come over, Ben, to the side promoting an automated strike zone. He’s right. MLB is going to have to start looking at that. The sooner, the better. And this is certainly how we all felt about it:
Borzellos look is so spot on pic.twitter.com/oweDjhXfqs— Bleacher Jeff (@BleacherJeff) August 13, 2017
Obviously that’s not the reason the Cubs lost this game — they trailed by six runs entering the ninth inning and their last-minute rally was likely going to fall short — but it’s definitely frustrating to have a game end on an obvious wrong call like that.
Jon Lester and Patrick Corbin were locked in a tough pitcher’s duel for the first five innings and I got the feeling this game wasn’t going to end well when the Cubs loaded the bases with two out in the fifth inning and Anthony Rizzo hit a baseball that at first looked like it might be headed for the seats for a grand slam. Instead it was caught on the warning track.
Earlier that inning, Javier Baez was on third base, running on a contact play when Albert Almora Jr. hit a ball to shortstop, and this happened:
Baez was convinced he was safe, so Joe Maddon challenged, and the review crew took only 47 seconds to say “call confirmed.” One of the angles looked like Baez got his hand on the plate before he was tagged, the others appeared inconclusive. As Len Kasper mentioned on the broadcast, the review crew has other angles that are not available to the broadcast crews, and that’s likely what happened to say “call confirmed.”
The D-backs scored four runs in the sixth, all they would need.
Would you have pitched to Paul Goldschmidt in that situation? Runner on first, one out. Goldschmidt has been such a Cubs-killer his entire career, and especially after the series at Wrigley, I think Joe Maddon decided “we’re not going to let this guy beat us.” Unfortunately, the D-backs have another good hitter in the lineup after Goldschmidt. J.D. Martinez doubled in a run, with Goldschmidt going to third. Lester got Ketel Marte to ground to short, a similar play to the one Baez was thrown out on, but Baez’ throw sailed over Alex Avila’s glove and Goldschmidt scored.
At 2-0 this game might have still been competitive, but Brandon Drury then doubled in two more runs off Lester, who overall had a decent game, just that one bad inning. Hector Rondon allowed three hits and a run in the seventh and David Peralta hit an inside-the park home run off Justin Grimm in the eighth to make it 6-0.
Now, if it’s 4-0 instead of 6-0 in the ninth and the Cubs had the same rally they did, scoring a pair of runs and having two runners on base, is it a different game? Probably. But that’s not the way things ended up, unfortunately.
You know by now that the Cardinals won Saturday night and so the Cubs and Cardinals are in a virtual tie for first place, with the Cubs having a lead of a single percentage point, .522 to .521. Hopefully, that situation will be rectified Sunday. The Cardinals have won eight in a row and that can’t last forever. Also, the schedule turns in the Cubs’ favor this week, as they’ll face the Reds and Blue Jays at home while the Cardinals, who have a 26-30 road record, have to travel to Boston and Pittsburgh.
First things first: win Sunday. Jake Arrieta goes for the Cubs and Zack Godley for the D-backs in a 3:10 p.m. CT start. The game preview will post at 1 p.m. CT.