Warning! This is not going to be a traditional game recap. The image above is your first clue.
I have watched Cubs baseball for a very long time. More than half a century, in fact. Those thousands of games have ranged from the very worst to the pinnacle of baseball, from the ridiculous (losing when a ball hit a player in the head) to the sublime.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game that ran me through the gamut of emotions like Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Brewers.
Last month, management did exactly what many Cubs fans hoped they would do: Spend big money to sign the best closer available, Craig Kimbrel.
And what did we get for all that money Saturday night? 13 pitches, with these results: Home run, walk, home run, and this after Kimbrel had been lights-out over his previous eight appearances (0.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 11 strikeouts in eight innings).
And if you think YOU feel bad after that, check out these guys after the first of the two homers in the 10th inning:
Pretty much sums up the way we all feel right now, I’d think.
Perhaps you, like I, thought Jon Lester could have gone longer than the seven quality innings (94 pitches) he threw. Here, take that notion right out of your head:
Jon Lester said he was “gassed” and told Maddon and Hottovy he was done after seven. Said it may have been lingering effects of recent illness.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 28, 2019
Also important to note regarding the above:
Anyone who actually thinks Lester would tell the media this to cover for his manager doesn't know Lester. This isn't the first time he's been asked about whether he could go deeper -- and he always says he can go deeper.— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) July 28, 2019
Lester was really good, too. You’ll particularly like this:
Jon Lester, Nasty 88mph Cutter.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 28, 2019
Ryan Braun, Ridiculous Slip & Fall-downer. pic.twitter.com/WaimGd2RQd
But seriously, if any Cubs starter can go longer than seven innings, I think we the fanbase would be greatly appreciative, because at this point it just doesn’t seem like any of the relievers can get anyone out. That’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Steve Cishek, too: Threw three pitches, gave up a home run and a double. (Please, Joe. Send Cishek back to Chicago this morning so you’re not tempted to use him again. Cishek has pitched in four of the five games on this road trip and in six games in the last nine days.)
That made for two blown saves by Cubs pitchers in this game. The Cubs have 20 blown saves this year. Compare that to the Brewers (13) and Cardinals (nine) and you’ll see the problem. This was also the 10th time this year that the Cubs had blown a lead in the seventh inning or later, which (tied with the Athletics) is the most in the major leagues and the most for any Cubs team since 2013. I trust you don’t want to remember anything else from the 2013 season.
And the Cubs have had a lead at some point in every one of the 14 games since the All-Star break, yet are just 8-6 in those 14 games. It’s all on the bullpen.
This is all absurd, thus the headline to this recap.
Here, have a couple of highlights. Anthony Rizzo smashed a two-run homer in the third inning [VIDEO].
The Cubs had a close call in the sixth when Keston Hiura hit a deep drive to left field with a runner on base [VIDEO].
In the video, you can see Cubs fielders completely perplexed by that truly awful home-run call by third-base umpire Adrian Johnson, who is having a really bad series. Fortunately, the umpires got together and called that clearly foul ball an actual foul ball, and Lester struck out Hiura to end the inning.
I suppose you can give some credit to relievers Tyler Chatwood and Rowan Wick, who managed to get through the eighth and ninth without giving up the lead or winning run after Cishek’s awful appearance, but Chatwood gave up a double before Wick got out of the eighth, and Wick issued a leadoff walk in the ninth and the runner got to second before Wick struck out Lorenzo Cain to end the inning.
Then Albert Almora Jr. gave the Cubs some brief hope [VIDEO].
That was Almora’s 11th of the year. This was all set up for a stirring extra-inning win, and then... well, you know, I don’t have to repeat it.
The Cubs are now 19-31 on the road this year (and 1-4 on this so-far disastrous trip). That means they’d have to go 22-9 in the remaining 31 road games to have a winning road record. I mean... this team is talented enough to do that, but they just don’t seem to have ways to win away from Wrigley Field, even though their home record is a sparkling 36-18. It’s completely mystifying.
Here, have a bizarre but totally true sentence: The Seattle Mariners have a better road record (20-31) than the Cubs, and the Mariners are 18 games under .500 and are likely going to lose at least 95 games this year.
The Cubs, we would hope, won’t do that. Somehow, they still stand just one game out of first place in the Comedy Central. This season has been almost completely ridiculous so far, so maybe they’ll win the division after all. In my view, they still — by far — have the best talent in the division.
One of the best things about baseball is that even after a game that makes you feel like Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” there is another game the next day. Jose Quintana, who has been spectacularly good against the Brewers for most of his career, will start for the Cubs and Zach Davies gets the call for Milwaukee. Game time is 1:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage again is via ABC7 Chicago.
It can’t get worse. It has to get better. Right? Right?