It’s really a shame when a game ends on a poorly-made judgment call by an umpire.
The Cubs lost 6-5 to the Angels, and if you didn’t see it, here’s what I’m talking about [VIDEO].
No, Gabe Morales, that’s not a swing. Plate umpire Jerry Meals didn’t call it a swing. Kyle Schwarber thought he’d walked, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen Schwarber that angry, and justifiably so. Give credit to Javier Baez for holding back Kyle from charging at Morales, otherwise we’d probably be looking at a suspension for Schwarber.
And if you don’t believe me or that video, check this out:
Schwarber's main issue was that his first checked swing on Allen's first pitch was called a ball. Then the checked swing on the 3-2 curve was called a strikeout. Here's a look at the available side views for both pitches. The closeup is the last pitch. pic.twitter.com/HvSWWA0bvR— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 13, 2019
Now. The thing is, the Cubs should never have been in the situation they were in the bottom of the ninth, with the tying and winning runs on base and Schwarber at bat with two out. I mean, sure, it was an exciting comeback, but:
- The Cubs squandered multiple run-scoring opportunities earlier, leaving RISP in the first, third, fifth and eighth innings, and
- STOP WITH THE WALKS ALREADY! Eight Cubs walks, including two with the bases loaded in the Angels sixth inning, sealed the Cubs’ fate in this one. I mean... Kyle Ryan almost walked Angels closer Cody Allen, who was having his first major-league at-bat and first of any kind since 2011.
Let’s unpack the rest of this game. Kyle Hendricks, for once, didn’t give up a run in the first inning. Part of that was because of this bizarre inning-ending play [VIDEO].
Here’s the best description of that play:
Bour singles, runs past 1B. Dives back in as throw from Zobrist hits him, skips away. He gets up and tries for second. Contreras gets ball, fires to Baez who applies tag. Bour called safe. Baez wanted a replay, but wait! Bour starts walking to dugout, Baez tags him. Inning over.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 13, 2019
The ball actually hit Bour in the foot, starting that sequence of events. And yes:
Now that's a TOOTBLAN if I've ever seen one.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 13, 2019
The Angels scored three in the second, after Hendricks allowed three straight hits and Tommy La Stella did something that he was good at as a Cub, reached on catcher’s interference. That was the third time this year — and we are only in game 14! — that Willson Contreras has been called for CI, and he joins this club he probably never wanted to be a part of:
The only Cubs catchers on record with 3 catcher's interference calls against them in the same season:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 13, 2019
Willson Contreras (2019)
Barry Foote (1979)
Vic Roznovsky (1965)
The Cubs got a run back on a Baez double in the third, and a second run on another Baez double in the fifth, making the score 3-2. They might have scored more, had Daniel Descalso, who had walked leading off the inning, not been thrown out trying to steal after Ben Zobrist struck out.
So it’s 3-2, a deficit that the Cubs could overcome, entering the sixth, and Joe had seen enough of Hendricks, who had thrown 87 pitches. Brad Brach entered the game, allowed a one-out single, and then stopped throwing strikes. He loaded the bases on walks, got a second out, then issued a bases-loaded walk to pinch-hitter Albert Pujols, making it 4-2.
Think about that. Pujols has now played 92 games and had 400 plate appearances at Wrigley Field, and that could be the last one... and it’s a walk.
Another walk issued, by Tim Collins leading off the eighth, helped lead to the Angels’ sixth run, the difference in the game.
The Cubs put two across in the bottom of that inning. Jason Heyward, who’s having a fine season so far, doubled and Contreras singled him to third. An out and a walk later, the bases were loaded for pinch-hitter Mark Zagunis [VIDEO].
I wish that video showed that entire at-bat, because it was a terrific one, probably the best by anyone in this game. Here’s the pitch sequence:
Here's a look at Zagunis' fantastic pinch-hit at-bat in the 8th. pic.twitter.com/oMdqF3tAe6— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 13, 2019
Zagunis has become known for his plate discipline, and he showed it there, taking a couple of really close pitches for balls and fouling off a couple more really good fastballs before his two-run single made it 6-4.
Ryan walked Bour leading off the ninth, then recorded a pair of outs, one of which advanced Bour to second. An intentional pass was granted to force the Angels to send Allen to bat.
Now, seriously. Here is a relief pitcher who has never batted in the big leagues. Why would you not just throw him strikes? The count was run full — and the pitches out of the zone weren’t close! — until Ryan finally struck Allen out.
There’s far too much nibbling from this pitching staff. The eight walks Saturday give the Cubs staff 67 for the season in 14 games, averaging more than four per game. That number leads the major leagues. It’s going to have to change.
The Cubs didn’t quit. With one out in the ninth, Anthony Rizzo walked and was doubled to third by Baez, his third double of the game. Fun fact time!
First by a Cubs Shortstop since Ryan Theriot 5/25/2009https://t.co/zcMMETJF5S— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) April 13, 2019
Heyward then hit a pop fly down the left-field line [VIDEO].
The ball was dropped by Brian Goodwin, touched in fair territory. Heyward was given a sac fly as Rizzo scored, and wound up on second base, with Baez to third. The tying and winning runs, then, were in scoring position with one out. But Contreras struck out and that brought up Schwarber, and that’s where we came in.
Robot umpires wouldn’t necessarily obviate judgment calls like the one Morales made on Schwarber, but it was clear to just about everyone else in the ballpark besides Morales that Schwarber didn’t swing. A walk would have loaded the bases for David Bote, who thrives on situations like that. It might have been a thrilling comeback win. Instead, it’s a tough loss.
I do not expect baseball to be played at Wrigley Field Sunday. No call has been made about the game at this writing, but not long before Saturday’s game ended the National Weather Service issued this Special Weather Statement:
A strong spring storm system will likely bring an accumulation of very wet and slushy snow to portions of northern Illinois and extreme northwest Indiana on Sunday. The heaviest snowfall rates are expected to occur from a bit prior to sunrise through mid day or the early afternoon, with lower intensities during the afternoon. The snow will end by early evening. There will likely be a fairly narrow band where these heavy snowfall rates of up to one inch per hour are most persistent. Exactly where this sets up, two to four inches of accumulation are likely on colder or elevated surfaces, with locally higher amounts possible.
With warm road temperatures and the strong April sun, roads will likely be mainly wet most of the time. However, it`s possible that some slush may cover bridges or overpasses and less traveled roadways during the heaviest snowfall. While overall lack of accumulation on roads may limit the magnitude of travel impacts, visibility will likely be sharply reduced at times. In addition, northerly winds gusting up to 25 to 35 mph could plaster the very wet and heavy snow onto elevated surfaces, including tree branches, so minor tree damage is possible. Motorists are advised to prepare for potentially adverse travel conditions on Sunday. Continue to stay tuned for the latest forecast updates.
I mean... that doesn’t sound conducive to baseball at all. There is a mutual off day for the Cubs and Angels, Monday, August 26, that would work out reasonably well for a makeup date. Let’s hope the Cubs and MLB do the right thing and call Sunday’s game off early so that no one is inconvenienced and the players get a full day off. I fully admit I was incorrect on my call for the team to postpone Wednesday and/or Thursday, but this situation appears to be quite different. I will keep you posted on this site tonight or tomorrow morning with details.
If they somehow do play, ex-Angel Tyler Chatwood will start for the Cubs and ex-Cub Trevor Cahill goes for the Angels. Scheduled game time Sunday is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage would be via WGN.