Oh... you came here expecting a game recap. I suppose I owe you one, though I can’t imagine you really want to re-live this awful ending, or live it for the first time if you didn’t stay up until 12:55 a.m. CT like I did. (I turned the TV off before Dexter Fowler even finished running the bases. Couldn’t bear to watch that.)
Let’s begin with a couple of quotes from Joe Maddon:
#Cubs Maddon: "We're not hitting the ball like we can. We're not scoring any runs. The pitching has been good enough to have a really good streak going but we've been void of hard contact."— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 7, 2018
Is the offense pressing? #Cubs Maddon: "Of course. Everybody's trying to get it done and that's what happens in these moments. Youv'e got to ride them out. Right now, it's frustrating to watch."— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 7, 2018
That’s all true, but once your team hits a 14th-inning home run, you really should win the game. Here, have a look at Javier Baez’s homer, anyway:
Fun fact about Javy’s blast:
Javier Báez now has a 12th inning HR, a 13th inning HR, a 14th inning HR and a 15th inning HR in his career— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 7, 2018
None in the 10th or 11th though...#Cubs
Good things that happened in this game:
- Jon Lester threw 5⅓ credible innings despite two rain delays, one of which happened after the top of the first before he could throw a pitch.
- The bullpen did an excellent job from the sixth, when Lester departed, and the end of the 13th. Steve Cishek, Justin Wilson, Carl Edwards Jr., Brian Duensing, Brandon Morrow and Mike Montgomery combined to throw 7⅔ innings, allowing two hits, four walks and no runs with seven strikeouts. Montgomery in particular looked sharp after some rough outings earlier this year, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced.
- Kris Bryant homered, his second in the last four games. On the other hand, both KB’s homer and Javy’s were with the bases empty, extending the Cubs’ only-solo-homers streak to 13.
And then there was the misplay in right field by Jason Heyward in the sixth that allowed the Cardinals to tie the game. Heyward (and really, many of the Cubs) have made defensive miscues this year that you wouldn’t have ever expected to see over the last two seasons. No error was charged on Heyward’s play Sunday night, but this team’s defense is going to have to improve if they’re going to start winning. Great defense was one of the biggest reasons the Cubs won 103 games in 2016. That’s been missing since then. Heyward was a standup guy about his misplay:
Heyward: “I didn’t help us win the game tonight. That’s on me.” Took full responsibility for triple that sailed past him in 6th— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) May 7, 2018
And the pitching staff is simply going to have to cut down on the walks. Eight walks were issued by Cubs pitchers Sunday night, which ties the Cubs staff for third-most in the National League with 140. Only Marlins and Braves pitchers have walked more hitters. Meanwhile, Cubs hitters are dead last in the N.L. with 99 walks. The Cubs have played the fewest games in the league, though, so that’s one reason for that standing, and another reason why the walks by pitchers are so concerning.
Honestly, I don’t have a lot more to say about this game. Odd thing, too, the way it ended, because this recap surely would have been much longer if the Cubs had won, but they didn’t. Luke Farrell was one strike away from ending it, on four straight pitches on a 1-2 count on Fowler. Two of them were fouled off, the next was ball two, and the fourth... well, you know. It wasn’t a terrible pitch, it was low and inside, and Fowler somehow launched it. And this is why Farrell was in the game instead of Pedro Strop:
Maddon confirmed Strop wasn't available today because of Saturday's two innings of work.— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) May 7, 2018
The Cubs need to right the ship, and fast. The next six games are against teams off to rough starts this year. Frankly, I’d be disappointed if the Cubs don’t win at least five of the six. Monday night, Kyle Hendricks goes for the Cubs and Jarlin Garcia will start for the Marlins at Wrigley Field. Game time is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage Monday is via NBC Sports Chicago.