You knew, just knew, didn’t you?
Watching this crazy game Sunday afternoon, the winning run seemed almost fated to score on a wild pitch. And so it did, after a leadoff double by Joey Gallo and an infield out, Pedro Strop threw one away and the Rangers had a wacky 11-10 win over the Cubs, unexpectedly winning this series.
Before you read the rest of this recap or jump off the ledge, I want to remind you of something:
There are 159 games remaining this season.
Feel better now?
I didn’t think so, but let’s try to deconstruct this game. The Cubs scored first, thanks to Kyle Schwarber, who hit his second homer in as many days [VIDEO].
And they plated two more in the third, on RBI singles by Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant. An infield out in the fourth made it 4-0, and you’d have been really happy if they had just ended the game right then, hmmm?
Cole Hamels had allowed one run in the bottom of the fourth, but had two out and a runner on first. Easy, right? Well, no. Hamels walked the bases loaded and Delino DeShields smashed a grand slam, and suddenly it’s 5-4 Rangers.
The Cubs began their comeback in the sixth. This inning was a great example of what Joe Maddon called “opportunity hitting” in spring training. It’s really just another name for “situational hitting,” but the Cubs did really well here. Four RBI singles (Jason Heyward, Zobrist, Bryant and Anthony Rizzo) gave the Cubs their three-run lead back.
Then it was time for Tyler Chatwood to show off the good relief form he’d shown this spring, in relief of Hamels.
That lasted two batters, both of whom made outs, on just six pitches. That’s good! What wasn’t good was Jeff Mathis, one of the worst hitters the Rangers have, homering off Chatwood, making it 8-6 Cubs. Chatwood got the final out, walked the first hitter in the next inning, got out of that with a double play, then gave up a single and another walk. Verdict: Thumbs down, at least for this appearance.
Mike Montgomery relieved Chatwood and gave up a triple, home run and another walk. That gave the Rangers a 10-8 lead and brought Steve Cishek into the game. Cishek was good today, and that gave the Cubs a chance to get back into the game.
Anthony Rizzo led off the eighth with this monstrous home run into the second deck [VIDEO].
That ball: CRUSHED!
The Cubs tied the game again, moments later, on a single by Javier Baez, who stole second and scored on a single by Daniel Descalso. Cishek threw an uneventful eighth, the Cubs failed to score in the ninth, and now we’re back at the beginning of this recap and you surely don’t need or want me to talk about it again.
Before I wrap with my thoughts on this mess, here are a few fun facts:
Anthony Rizzo: 191st HR with #Cubs - passing Hack Wilson for sole possession of 10th on the Cubs career home run list.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 31, 2019
All 9 #Cubs starters in the lineup have a hit today.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 31, 2019
They did that 5 times last season.
This is the 5th time since 1900 the #Cubs have scored 6+ runs in each of the first 3 games of a season.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) March 31, 2019
1955, 1969, 1998, 2016, 2019
Well now. There are some pretty good seasons in that list. The Cubs have scored 28 runs in three games, so they’re averaging 9.33 runs per game. If they could keep up that pace (spoiler alert: they won’t), that would be 1,512 runs in 2019, which would shatter all records.
The offense looks great, it hit well in a good hitters’ park, and they’re going to another one in Atlanta.
But. The pitching staff allowed 23 runs in the three games; that’s 7.67 runs per game, and that would be 1,242 runs given up this year, shattering all records (again, spoiler alert, this won’t happen).
This is an extremely small sample size, against a good-hitting team in a good hitters’ park. The Cubs simply didn’t get the relief help they could have used when they needed it most. That is going to have to change, and I believe it will.
Regarding the hitting and Chris Kamka’s tweet about all nine in the lineup hitting safely: Not only did that happen, but seven of the nine hitters had at least TWO hits. The exceptions: Albert Almora Jr. (1-for-4, one run, one RBI) and Schwarber, who hit that home run. It’s good to see Rizzo and Bryant off to good starts, and again, I think the pitching will settle down.
Monday wouldn’t be too soon for that to happen. The Cubs open a three-game series in Atlanta, with Kyle Hendricks going against Braves lefty Sean Newcomb. Game time Monday is 6:10 p.m. CT. TV coverage will be on NBC Sports Chicago Plus, along with a national broadcast that will be available in the Cubs market territory.
Patience, please. I remind you again: There are 159 games remaining.