All of Cubdom held its breath Sunday night after Javier Baez took a Jack Flaherty fastball off his left elbow [VIDEO].
As noted by the ESPN broadcast crew, Javy’s pretty tough, so you know if he has to leave the game after something like this, it must be somewhat serious.
Fortunately, all appears to be well:
#Cubs Baez: "I'm fine. It's just really sore, it got me really good right on the elbow. I thought the pain was going to go away right away but it kind of numbed my whole arm and even my ribs."— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 18, 2018
#Cubs Baez did not get an X-ray. Team wants to see how he feels on Monday. He even sounded as if he'll play in series opener vs LA— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 18, 2018
That’s good news; hopefully Javy misses only a game or two at most.
The bad news is that the Cubs didn’t take advantage of the situation, runners on first and second with nobody out, and eventually loading the bases with two out, nor did they take advantage of any other offensive situation Sunday night in a 5-0 loss to the Cardinals.
Jose Quintana and Flaherty matched zeroes for the first five innings, but Q couldn’t get a bunt down in that second inning, and then Kris Bryant struck out with the bases loaded. The Cubs had the same situation in the fourth. The first two runners reached, then Kyle Schwarber dumped what looked like a single to right. But the runners needed to hold to make sure the ball dropped in, and Cardinals right fielder Harrison Bader threw a laser beam to third base to force Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs eventually loaded the bases again in that inning. Unfortunately, Quintana was the next hitter. He was called out on strikes, a completely predictable result considering he entered the game 0-for-23 this year with 12 strikeouts.
Still like seeing pitchers hit?
Anyway, Q gave up a pair of singles to start the sixth and Joe Maddon called on Anthony Bass. Addison Russell, who had replaced Baez, fielded a sharp ground ball hit by Bader. He had an excellent shot at a force at third, but threw to first. Bader beat the throw to load the bases. Bass induced a double-play ball that scored a run, and Jedd Gyorko singled to make it 2-0.
Really, I could stop here, because the Cubs simply weren’t taking advantage of situations. They had only four singles in the game, but also three walks and two batters hit by pitches. That only led to being 0-for-6 with RISP and having rally-killing things like Willson Contreras being caught stealing and later hitting into a double play.
Brian Duensing had his third bad outing in his last four, allowing two runs, including a home run by Matt Carpenter. In those four outings: 3⅓ innings, 18.90 ERA, 2.700 WHIP. Perhaps a 10-day DL “rest” is called for Duensing? His season ERA jumped from 1.93 to 4.50 over those four appearances.
There is one Cubs defensive highlight worth watching, courtesy of Schwarber [VIDEO].
Kyle Schwarber— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 18, 2018
2017: 110 games in outfield, 7 assists
2018: 55 games in outfield, 7 assists#Cubs
As noted on the broadcast, those seven assists lead all N.L. outfielders. Kyle really has turned himself into a good major-league left fielder.
This game was the seventh time the Cubs have been shut out so far this year (comparison point: 10 all of last year, six all of 2016). The Cubs aren’t having any trouble scoring runs, it’s how they split them up that seems to be the issue. In the team’s 40 wins, they have scored 285 runs (7.1 per win), but in the 28 losses, they have scored just 52 runs (1.9 per loss). Now, obviously teams will score more runs in games they win than in games they lose, but that seems to be an extreme difference. By comparison, the 42-29 Brewers have averaged 5.9 runs per win and 1.9 per loss. The Cubs are winning more blowouts (15-7 in games decided by five or more runs) than close games (6-11 in one-run contests).
Whether this will become a season-long trend remains to be seen.
The loss kept the Cubs half a game behind the Brewers in the N.L. Central, but Joe Maddon was satisfied with the series:
#Cubs Maddon: "We'll take two out of three any day of the week, especially in this ballpark. We played well. We just didn't get any hits tonight."— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 18, 2018
The Cubs return home Monday evening to begin a brief, one-series, three-game homestand against the Dodgers. Tyler Chatwood starts for the Cubs and Kenta Maeda will go for L.A. Game time is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on NBC Sports Chicago.