The Cubs put together a nice little ninth-inning rally Friday night in St. Louis, scoring two runs.
That’s significant because it marked the first time the Cubs had scored more than one run in an inning since last Saturday — that’s right, four straight games without the so-called “crooked number” on the board.
It wasn’t enough, unfortunately, and the Cubs fell to the Cardinals 3-2 in the opener of their three-game series. The loss also dropped the Cubs to 3-4 in one-run games this year, significant because of the lack of offense shown by this Cubs team recently:
#Cubs have had 9 straight games scoring 3 or fewer runs... 18 runs total over that span... and STILL have a winning record in those 9 games (5-4).— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 5, 2018
This team is too good to hit this way for much longer, or at least I’d like to think so.
The Cardinals had a walk and two hits in the first inning off Jose Quintana, and could have scored a run on the second single, but Kyle Schwarber said: “Not on my watch!”
Tremendous throw by Schwarber and excellent tag by Willson Contreras.
That could have set the tone for this game, except Javier Baez couldn’t get the handle on a ground ball to deep short by Dexter Fowler leading off the second. It wasn’t necessarily an easy play, but it’s the kind we’ve seen Javy make many times.
After Jedd Gyorko singled, Quintana retired the next two hitters. If not for Javy’s error, the inning would have been over.
That’s unfortunate, because Tommy Pham then slammed a no-doubt three-run homer off Q, which turned out to be the only runs the Cardinals needed. The error made them unearned, small consolation for Quintana, but they count nevertheless.
Q wasn’t sharp overall. He walked four in his four innings and threw 88 pitches. He might have come out for the fifth, but with Baez on first base with a single in the top of the inning, Joe sent up Ian Happ to bat for Q. Happ doubled, putting runners on second and third with one out... but they were stranded. This was a common theme Friday night. The Cubs were 1-for-8 with RISP and stranded nine, including Kris Bryant on a leadoff double in the eighth.
The one RISP hit was in the ninth. Singles by Albert Almora Jr. and Baez put runners on first and second with one out. Tommy La Stella then batted for reliever Brian Duensing [VIDEO].
TLS’ single scored Almora to make it 3-1, with Baez taking third. Ben Zobrist then beat a potential double-play relay and Baez scored to bring the Cubs within one.
TLS, incidentally, now has six pinch hits and seven PH RBI, both of which lead the major leagues.
With KB at bat, there was at least a chance... but Bryant grounded into a force play to end the game.
The bullpen, again, did a good job of keeping this game close. Brian Duensing, Steve Cishek and Justin Wilson threw four scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk and striking out three. Yes, even Wilson had a decent outing, despite giving up a pair of hits.
But eventually this offense is going to have to break out for the Cubs to begin winning games again. They’ve now lost three in a row for the first time this season. It’s hardly panic time. But I’d like to see more hitting.
Perhaps that will happen in an afternoon contest Saturday. Tyler Chatwood will go for the Cubs and Luke Weaver for the Cardinals. Game time is 1:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage Saturday is on ABC7 Chicago. The game preview will post at 11:45 a.m. CT.