You know, this game was pretty entertaining, with lots of interesting plays and four lead changes... and then, oh, no, Anthony Rizzo, what were you thinking? [VIDEO]
Rizzo got caught in no-man’s-land in between second and third on a bloop single to left by Willson Contreras with two out in the eighth, and that was the end of the inning. You can see by the photo at the top of this recap that Rizzo immediately knew he shouldn’t have done that.
Things didn’t start out that way. The Mets pushed across a run in the second inning on a double play, just as they had Thursday night. The Cubs took the lead right back in the bottom of the frame. Javier Baez walked leading off the inning. That’s worth mentioning because it was just the 16th unintentional walk for Javy this year. He stole second, went to third on an error on Bote’s grounder and scored on an infield out, with Bote taking second.
That was just the third RBI of Darvish’s career. He’s been a pretty bad hitter almost his entire career. It was a pleasant surprise and made the score 2-1 Cubs.
But Darvish, not satisfied with that, immediately gave it back, on a two-run homer by Jeff McNeil in the top of the third.
Jason Vargas, who has made a career out of junkballling, then retired the Cubs easily in the third and fourth. Darvish did the same to the Mets, helped out in the top of the fifth by this nifty play by Javy [VIDEO].
In the bottom of the inning, Darvish led off with a single.
That was not only the first multi-hit game of Darvish’s career... the two hits make 2019 the first multi-hit season of Darvish’s career. He has three hits this season and never had more than one in any previous year.
Addison Russell was the next hitter [VIDEO].
That made it 4-3 Cubs, but Darvish allowed another homer, this one to Michael Conforto, with two out in the sixth, to tie the game again.
When Darvish departed for a pinch-hitter in the sixth with the game tied, that tied a major-league record:
Longest streak of no-decision starts (excluding openers) via @EliasSports— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 21, 2019
10 Yu Darvish 2019 (active)
10 Randy Lerch 1977
10 John D'Acquisto 1977
10 Dick Stigman 1965-66
Darvish had a no-decision in his first start this year, then five in a row with decisions, and now 10 straight no-decisions.
Anyway, the pinch-hitter was Daniel Descalso, who was batting with Albert Almora Jr. on first. Almora had reached on an error. Uh-oh, Albert... he got himself picked off by Mets catcher Tomas Nido. This was not a good baserunning game for the Cubs, despite Javy’s steal, which tied him for the team lead with... four.
Darvish didn’t pitch badly despite the two home runs. Six innings, four hits, two walks, four runs... I mean, if a team can support that with offense, you’ve got a decent chance of winning.
Joe called on Brad Brach to relieve Darvish. He immediately game up a single to Adeiny Hechavarria, wild-pitched him to second, then recorded two outs before Mike Montgomery was summoned to face the lefty-hitting McNeil. This was not optimal, because McNeil hits both LH and RH pitchers about equally (.889 OPS vs. LHP, .885 OPS vs. RHP entering this game). McNeil’s single scored Hechavarria with the lead run before McNeil was thrown out trying to take second.
Montgomery managed a scoreless eighth before the TOOTBLAN by Rizzo ran the Cubs out of the eighth. Edwin Diaz, who’s had some blown saves this year and hadn’t pitched in six days, dispatched the Cubs 1-2-3 in the ninth, and the Cubs had another tough loss. They’re now 12-13 in one-run games.
One thing I did want to note here was some sketchy umpiring behind the plate by Larry Vanover. Take, for example, these pitches thrown to Rizzo in the third inning:
Oh, come on, Larry. Pitch 7 — which was called strike three, and Rizzo, who rarely shows anger, was pretty upset — was not a strike. Vanover was doing this all afternoon:
Jason Vargas is going to keep going low and off the plate glove side, because he's getting that call from home-plate ump Larry Vanover. One just rung up Anthony Rizzo to end the third inning. pic.twitter.com/M0NAST0jMQ— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 21, 2019
Repeat after me: Bring on the robot umpires.
That’s not the reason the Cubs lost this game, but it is another source of frustration with the way the game is run in the year 2019.
The Cubs will remain in first place no matter what the Brewers do Friday night, as they entered with a 1½-game lead. All you can do after one like this is say, “Get ‘em tomorrow.”
Tomorrow, Saturday, will bring a Jose Quintana vs. Zack Wheeler matchup. Game time again is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage is via ABC7 Chicago, and also it’ll be on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Mets market territories.