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Pirates 7, Cubs 1: You make the call

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Could the Cubs have turned this game around with some different moves?

This entire game felt foggy
Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Here’s the situation.

The Cubs are trailing the Pirates 1-0 going into the bottom of the fifth. Addison Russell leads off the inning with a single, the tying run on base.

Chris Gimenez is the next hitter. He’s a double-play candidate. Would you have had him bunt?

I might have — especially with the third baseman playing back — but Joe Maddon didn’t. And Gimenez hit what could have been a double-play ball, but Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer booted it.

Well, now you have two men on base, and the tying run in scoring position.

Kyle Hendricks is the next due hitter. He hasn’t had his best stuff, but has managed to get through five innings down just 1-0 on 86 pitches. He probably could have thrown another inning.

Would you have had Hendricks bunt the runners over and save Tommy La Stella for a later pinch-hitting situation? I think I would have, and let Hendricks at least start the sixth.

Instead, TLS batted for Hendricks. He’s been an excellent pinch-hitter this year, but not this time. He hit into a double play, with Russell taking third, but there he stayed.

It’s still 1-0 entering the sixth, but I think I would have made different choices. Would they have worked? We’ll never know. What we do know is that Brian Duensing, who has been a very effective reliever all year, had a terrible outing, allowing two hits and two walks, and then was relieved with the Cubs trailing just 2-0 by Luke Farrell, who’s also been effective much of this year. Farrell served up a bases-clearing triple to Gregory Polanco and that, as they say, was that, and the Cubs went on to lose 7-1 Sunday afternoon to the Pirates.

The Cubs had an earlier chance to score when they put two runners on with two out in the third, thanks to an error by Josh Harrison, but Kris Bryant struck out to end that inning. They did score one run in the sixth when Jason Heyward doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on an infield out.

Let me pause once again to praise Jason Heyward. He had two more hits in this game and was 5-for-12 with three doubles in this series. Overall since May 29, Heyward is hitting .396/.408/.563 (19-for-48) with five doubles and a home run and only four strikeouts. And this extends even farther back. Since May 5, Heyward is hitting .333/.361/.487 (26-for-78) with five doubles, two triples and a home run. I think we can say that J-Hey has figured things out and is now a good offensive contributor.

Returning to the game, I suppose you could go either way on the decisions made in the fifth and sixth innings, but overall I guess this game counts as one of those “you can’t win ‘em all” affairs. Credit to Ivan Nova and three Pirates relievers for keeping Cubs hitters off balance most of the afternoon.

The weather was again lousy; it rained all morning, ending shortly before noon and the field was prepared for an on-time start. Light rainshowers and drizzle marked the first three innings, after which a thick fog descended on the ballpark. Write your own metaphor for that and the way the game was played. It certainly wasn’t reminiscent of weather we might expect in Chicago in almost mid-June. At least the Cubs won’t have to worry about weather the next three days, with games at Miller Park, and also, they didn’t lose any ground to the Brewers, who lost to the Phillies Sunday afternoon. The series in Milwaukee, then, begins with the Cubs half a game out of first place and one up on the Brewers in the loss column.

One last note on this game. In the eighth inning, someone ran onto the field, coming from somewhere in the right-field seating area. This is a really, really, really dumb thing to do. As noted on the Cubs’ Wrigley Field information page:

The field is a restricted area. Entering the field of play is a felony. Offenders may be arrested and charged by the Chicago Police Department.

A number of years ago, after a few similar incidents, the city of Chicago passed an ordinance upgrading this sort of trespassing from a misdemeanor to a felony. That means a criminal record and possible jail time. Don’t do this. Just don’t. There’s video around on Twitter of this, but I’m not going to give this guy the attention he wants by posting it here.

Onward. Monday’s series against the Brewers begins with a night game at 7:10 p.m. CT. Jose Quintana — who’s had some great games vs. the Brewers since he came to the Cubs — will open the series against Milwaukee’s Junior Guerra. Monday’s TV coverage will be on NBC Sports Chicago Plus.

Poll

What would you have done in the Cubs’ fifth inning?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Exactly what Joe Maddon did
    (101 votes)
  • 78%
    Left Kyle Hendricks in to bunt after the first two hitters reached base
    (418 votes)
  • 2%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (13 votes)
532 votes total Vote Now