The San Diego Padres are a major-league baseball team.
As such, they are almost certain to win one-third of their games.
I’ve got a number of criticisms of the Cubs in this one, but I’m going to begin at the end. What on Earth was Randy Rosario doing in a one-run game in the ninth inning, especially since two of the first three hitters were righthanded and he’d also been warming up three different times? I don’t usually criticize Joe Maddon’s bullpen use, but man, that did not make any sense when Brandon Kintzler was available.
Rosario was just bad, striking out the first hitter he faced and then allowing six straight hitters to reach base with four runs scoring, the biggest blows a two-run homer by Hunter Renfroe and a two-run single by Travis Jankowski that put the game out of reach.
Now let’s rewind to the beginning, because I’ve got some more things to critique.
First is Jon Lester, who struggled mightily again. His velocity seemed down; he barely was touching 90 and struck out only one. He served up a home run to Freddy Galvis, who entered this game with a .340 slugging percentage. All of that gave the Padres a 4-0 lead after two innings.
Javier Baez got one of those runs back in the third [VIDEO].
That’s a new career homer high for Javy, his 24th, with 51 games to go. Unfortunately, that run was served right back on a home run to Franmil Reyes that went a long, long way:
Barrel: Franmil Reyes (9) [SD] off Jon Lester [CHC]: 111.2 mph, 24 degrees (Home Run - 477 ft)— MLBExitVelocity (@MLBExitVelocity) August 5, 2018
It hit on the top of the bleacher suite in center field, a little farther than a similar blast by Anthony Rizzo the other day.
So it’s 5-1 Padres after four, and Lester was lifted after five, having thrown 97 pitches, only 56 for strikes.
Tommy La Stella batted for Lester and reached on catcher’s interference, the fourth time this year he’s done that. It’s a skill, I suppose, that can’t be taught. Albert Almora Jr. lofted a single into short center that sent TLS to third, and a throwing error let La Stella score to make it 5-2, and Almora took second.
Javy was next, and he laced an RBI double down the left-field line [VIDEO]. So now it’s 5-3, and Javy’s in scoring position for David Bote, and...
Baez was called safe on the field, out on review, but the point is: Why would you bother trying to steal third there? You’re already in scoring position with two out, and Bote already had a double off Joey Lucchesi earlier in the game. I don’t get that at all.
Anyway, the Cubs had cut the deficit to two, and Jesse Chavez threw two really nice innings of relief. He did allow a pair of two-out singles in the seventh, but got out of it on a popup. Efficiency: six outs on 33 pitches, 25 of them strikes. Teach that strike-throwing to the other guys, please, Jesse?
The Cubs got to work in the bottom of the seventh. Ben Zobrist, batting for Chavez, singled and Ian Happ blooped a single to short right. Another single by Almora made it 5-4, and one out later, Anthony Rizzo, who didn’t start the game, batted for Bote [VIDEO].
This is all looking very good. Tie game, eighth inning, Carl Edwards Jr. on the mound... only C.J. seemed to run out of gas after retiring the first two hitters. He, too, seemed a bit down in velocity, hitting only 93 with most of his fastballs. He walked Jankowski, who immediately stole second and then Cory Spangenberg hit a ground ball to center that made it 6-5 Padres.
Still. There are two innings left, and the Cubs seem to have the bats going at last, but they went down 1-2-3 in the eighth.
And that’s where this recap began, with Rosario’s disastrous performance in the ninth. Rosario wasn’t happy when he was optioned to Iowa earlier in the week. He returned when Brian Duensing was placed on the disabled list, but after that awful 28-pitch inning, I suspect Randy might wind up on the Iowa Shuttle before Monday’s game in Kansas City.
The Cubs woke up the remnants of the crowd in the ninth as Zobrist led off with a homer [VIDEO]. That one smacked off the right-field video board to make it 10-6.
Jason Heyward, the last position player remaining, batted for Rosario and walked. Javy was next, batting to chants of “MVP! MVP!” He did not have an MVP-style at-bat, striking out, and that brought up Rizzo. Heyward waltzed unimpeded to third as Rizzo ran the count to 3-1, then swung and missed and then fouled off a pitch.
I’m sorry, Angel Hernandez, that pitch was not a strike.
Did I say that wasn’t a strike? Look here:
Let me just be clear: Hernandez actually called a pretty good game behind the plate Sunday, I didn’t have any quibbles with his calls... except that one, pitch 7 in the diagram above. Seriously, that was not a strike, and Rizzo made his displeasure known [VIDEO] to Hernandez as the umpire slowly walked down the first-base line toward the entrance to the umpires’ room. Maybe Hernandez had just about enough of the three-hour, 29-minute game, but... seriously, get these calls right.
I mean... it’s still a four-run game, and the likelihood that the Cubs are going to come back at that point is pretty close to zero. Still... let’s get these calls right.
The Cubs probably should not have lost two of the four games in this series. But that’s baseball.
And that’s why the Cubs owe a big “thank you” to Nolan Arenado, whose 11th-inning homer beat the Brewers after Milwaukee scored two runs to tie the game in the ninth on a dropped third strike that should have ended the game, an RBI double and a wild pitch. And then the Rockies won the game by challenging the back end of what was called on the field a force play, but wound up being a double play that ended it. The Brewers wound up using their closer, Corey Knebel, to throw two innings and 33 pitches, so they’re fortunate they have an off day Monday before the Padres come to Miller Park. Thus the Cubs maintained their one-game lead in the N.L. Central, despite the loss at Wrigley Sunday.
Hey, Padres... could you do us a solid and play like you did Sunday against the Brewers, too? You are, after all, a major-league baseball team.
A couple of non-game notes on this day. First, Cole Hamels spent at least 15 minutes after the gates opened going down the left-field wall signing autographs for kids:
Cole certainly made a lot of friends among Cubs fans Sunday.
Also, I had been wondering about the wifi service the Cubs had promised would get better over the course of the season, a new service provided by Comcast called “Xfinity WiFi@Wrigley,” as it shows up on your list of wifi channels, or at least it’s supposed to.
I hadn’t seen this wifi ID show up on my phone in the bleachers since before the All-Star break, so before the game I decided to take a walk all the way around the concourse and seating area of the ballpark to test it.
Just as soon as I turned the corner from the bleachers into the bowl, that wifi ID showed up. It gave me a solid signal until just past third base, then vanished until I got to around first base, then it reappeared and was solid... until I turned the corner back into the bleachers, where it vanished again.
There have been new wifi access points installed in the bleachers... but the Xfinity wifi doesn’t show up there at all. Perhaps someone forgot to turn on the switch marked “bleachers”? In any case, I hope the Cubs can look into this before the next home game, scheduled for Friday.
Before then, the Cubs head to Kansas City for a three-game series (and road trip, thanks, schedule-makers, for these weird short homestands and road trips) beginning Monday evening. And they’re going to have some fun with it:
Theme trip for #Cubs road trip to KC: Dress Like Pedro Strop. Gold chains required.— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) August 5, 2018
I want to see photos of this. Strop, you can be sure, will have fun with it.
Hopefully, the Cubs have some fun in K.C., and win some games, too. Hamels will get the start Monday evening at Kauffman Stadium against Jakob Junis for the Royals. Game time Monday is 7:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on NBC Sports Chicago.