By the time Daniel Descalso hit into a double play, ending the Cubs’ frustrating 5-4 loss to the Phillies, the Yu Darvish vs. Jake Arrieta matchup had faded far into the background.
And in the end, the pitching of Darvish and Arrieta didn’t make the difference. The Cubs positioned themselves well to beat Jake, but left too many runners on base against him. Darvish threw extremely well for five innings, then made one bad pitch in the sixth that made his numbers for the night look only decent instead of excellent.
Back to the beginning of the game we go. Both pitchers threw a 1-2-3 first, and after Darvish allowed his first hit of the game, a two-out single in the second, the Cubs had their chances in the bottom of the inning.
Victor Caratini singled to lead off the frame, then Jason Heyward singled him to second. Albert Almora Jr. hit into a force play with Caratini taking third. After Descalso walked to load the bases, Addison Russell hit into a force play at the plate, bringing up Darvish, and even you anti-DH folks might have wanted a DH at that point. Darvish did hit the ball, a comebacker to Arrieta, and the inning was over.
With one out in the third, we had a moment at Wrigley Field, my friends. This video is from NBC Sports Philadelphia [VIDEO].
Any player from the 2016 World Series champions, no matter who he eventually plays for, will deserve that kind of welcome. The Phillies official Twitter account gave some props to Cubs fans:
Standing ovation for @JArrieta34 at Wrigley Field.— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) May 21, 2019
Well done, @Cubs fans. pic.twitter.com/X8hbZHVv73
Darvish proceeded to strike Jake out.
The Cubs got on the board first. Kyle Schwarber smacked a ball high off the left-field wall that bounced away from Andrew McCutchen for a triple. One out later... [VIDEO].
Anthony Rizzo’s RBI single gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead, but they could score no further.
Neither did they score in the fourth, when they had runners on first and second with one out and second and third with two out. Or in the fifth, when Rizzo doubled, Caratini walked and Heyward hit an infield single to load the bases with one out. Almora then hit a fly ball to right field [VIDEO].
Bryce Harper made a perfect throw and Rizzo tried a Javy-like swim move, but obviously Rizzo’s no Baez on the basepaths. He was thrown out. Credit to Harper for the throw, and I thought it was a reasonably good send, given the situation at the time. But the out meant that the Cubs had left eight men on base in the second through fifth innings, and you can’t really do that and expect to win.
In the sixth, Darvish was clearly tiring. He issued a leadoff walk, then Jean Segura hit into a force play that was very, very close to a double play. It was reviewed [VIDEO].
Well... there’s one angle there that made Segura look out, but there apparently wasn’t enough to conclusively overturn the call on the field. That would have made a huge difference, as Darvish issued another walk, then got Rhys Hoskins to pop to second. That would have been the last out of the inning had the double play been turned. Instead, J.T. Realmuto batted and singled in the tying run, followed by a triple smacked down the line by Cesar Hernandez, and suddenly it was 3-1 Phillies.
Darvish was removed for pinch-hitter Mark Zagunis in the bottom of the inning, and finished the evening with six full innings — the first time he’d done that all year — four hits, three walks, three runs and seven strikeouts. That’s a perfectly decent outing and if the Cubs could have scored some runs with all those baserunners, maybe he leaves a winner.
The Phillies alos lifted Arrieta for a pinch-hitter in the seventh and his six-inning, eight-hit, one-run outing was similar to many he had as a Cub. Mike Montgomery allowed two hits in the seventh but got out of it unscored-on and the Cubs went 1-2-3 in the last of the seventh.
The eighth gave the Cubs the lead almost as quickly as the Phillies had taken it in the sixth. Seranthony Dominguez walked Caratini and Heyward to lead off the inning and Almora laid down a bunt:
Crew Chief reviews call that Albert Almora Jr. is out at 1B in the 8th; call confirmed, runner is out. Powered by @Mitel. pic.twitter.com/bYN4Lkf3WW— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) May 21, 2019
Close and worth that crew chief review, but you can see Almora was clearly out, though not by much.
One out later, Descalso got himself one of those “Little League home runs” [VIDEO].
Descalso’s triple scored two runs and Segura’s relay throw hit him in the foot and bounced into the Cubs dugout, with Descalso thus sent home with the lead run. Fun fact time!
Daniel Descalso: first #Cubs triple on which the batter scored on the play (due to error) since Javier Báez (of course) April 6, 2018 at Milwaukee.— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) May 21, 2019
With Steve Cishek not available after a 27-pitch outing Sunday, Brad Brach was called on to save the game. And Brach was throwing 96 mile per hour fastballs. He allowed a one-out double, then struck out pinch-hitter Scott Kingery. One strike away from victory, Brach walked McCutchen... on a changeup. Why they made this pitch selection, I’m not sure. Brach was having success with his fastball — why go away from it? It mattered when Segura blooped a ball just out of the reach of Rizzo [VIDEO].
The tying run scored, but Segura was thrown out at second. The Phillies challenged and it was ruled “call stands.” The Cubs failed to score in the last of the ninth, so on we went to extras.
Kyle Ryan recorded the first two outs in the 10th, and then I had to wonder why he was left in to pitch to Realmuto, who wound up taking Ryan deep for a 5-4 Phillies lead.
The Cubs got a one-out baserunner in the bottom of the 10th on a single by Almora, and I said to Mike Bojanowski regarding Descalso, “Just do anything but hit into a double play.”
So, what happens? He hit into a double play. The Cubs asked for another crew chief review:
Crew Chief reviews call that Daniel Descalso is out on 1B in the 10th; call confirmed, runner is out. Powered by @Mitel. pic.twitter.com/50eZCSQEmP— MLB Replays (@MLBReplays) May 21, 2019
Worth doing, I suppose, because what do you have to lose at this point? The game’s likely over, but maybe there’s something on video... there wasn’t, and the Cubs had a defeat instead of a victory on the books.
I suppose the best takeaway from this one is that Darvish had his second solid outing in a row. He threw 58 strikes in 95 pitches, and pounded the strike zone well until that sixth inning. Last three starts for Darvish: 3.52 ERA, 1.239 WHIP, 25 strikeouts in 15⅓ innings. Those numbers are very, very close to his career averages and if he can do that for the rest of the year, good things should follow for him.
One more positive takeaway: Heyward with two hits and a walk. Last four games for J-Hey: 5-for-16 (.313) with two walks and five runs scored.
The loss dropped the Cubs’ record in one-run games to 8-6 and to 3-2 in extra innings.
And just before this game ended there was an amusing moment when the Phillies brought in Juan Nicasio to pitch in the 10th inning just before Almora was due to hit. One of Almora’s walkup songs is “Bohemian Rhapsody.” During the pitching change, the song was allowed to continue playing well beyond the 10-15 seconds walkup music normally gets. Just before the passage in the song where Freddie Mercury sings, “Mama, ooooh,” the song was faded out... at which time the remnants of the crowd of 37,909 loudly sang “Mama, ooooh.” Don’t know if you could hear that on the TV broadcast, but it was loud and clear at Wrigley, providing some entertainment in a game that did not end happily.
The Cubs will try to even up the series Tuesday evening. Jose Quintana will start for the Cubs and Zach Eflin goes for the Phillies. Game time is an hour earlier than usual, 6:05 p.m. CT, and TV coverage will be via WGN (with a national, no-blackout broadcast on ESPN).