You knew it, didn’t you.
You knew, as soon as you saw this play [VIDEO], that this game was probably over.
That’s Kyle Schwarber, in the top of the sixth inning, batting with the bases loaded and two out. He hit a fly ball to deep left field — you can see him, briefly, slam his bat down in frustration — and the inning was over, about 50 feet from that hit being a grand slam.
And then Paul Goldschmidt, a tormentor of the Cubs from his Diamondbacks days who had been held down pretty well in the nine previous Cubs/Cardinals games this year, homered off Yu Darvish in the bottom of that inning, and that run held up as the game-winner in a 2-1 Cubs loss to the Cardinals in the opener of their three-game series.
Like it says in the headline: Infuriating.
You know, Yu Darvish pitched pretty well in this game, with the exception of the home-run ball to Goldschmidt and the two wild pitches in the fourth inning that tied the game. (Yeah, I know, the two things that lost this game.) Darvish was dialing his fastball up to 98 at times and struck out nine while walking no one. Of the six hits he allowed, all but Goldschmidt’s homer were singles. Here’s how well Darvish has cut down on walks this year:
Yu Darvish— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 31, 2019
First inning of 2019 (March 30) : 3 BB, 3 K
Last 5 starts: 2 BB, 36 K
Darvish’s outing should have been good enough to win, but the Cubs offense failed to show up. That’s been a common theme recently.
Here’s the only real offense they showed all night, an RBI single by Javier Baez [VIDEO], scoring Jason Heyward in the fourth inning.
As I mentioned earlier, the Cubs did load the bases in the sixth, on a double by Anthony Rizzo and a pair of walks with two out, before Schwarber’s fly out. Earlier in that inning, Heyward had led off with a single but was thrown out trying to steal second as Kris Bryant struck out.
The Cubs aren’t really any good at stealing bases this year. Maybe J-Hey should have just stayed put. That inning’s totally different in that case.
The Cubs did get decent relief work out of Rowan Wick (who’s been quite impressive since his recall) and Steve Cishek, two scoreless innings, but they couldn’t put together anything against the Cardinals bullpen, and that, as they say, was that.
Words of wisdom from Heyward, who had three hits on the night:
The way things are going, Jason Heyward doesn't expect one team to suddenly go on a run and separate from the NLC pack:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 31, 2019
"If you keep trying to look for a 10-game lead or whatever, it's a longer year than it is. That's not the kind of division it is this year. This is real."
“This is real.” That’s about the best description I can think of for the Comedy Central, where no team seems to want to win. The Cubs drop a game behind the Cardinals with the loss, and the Brewers, who lost in extra innings to the Athletics in Oakland, are two games behind. That Milwaukee loss? A walkoff homer by Matt Olson off Josh Hader:
Josh Hader this season:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 31, 2019
24 hits allowed, 10 home runs
Hader has now allowed more home runs this year than he did all of last year — in 30 fewer innings. Perhaps he’ll serve up a couple to the Cubs this weekend at Wrigley.
Before that, though, there’s business for the Cubs in St. Louis. They’ll try to tie for the division lead again Wednesday evening at 7:15 p.m. CT. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and Miles Mikolas will go for the Cardinals. TV coverage will be via WGN, and also a full national (no blackouts) broadcast on ESPN.
SITE NOTE: Today is MLB’s single trade deadline day, with the deadline at 3 p.m. CT. At 9 a.m. CT, there will be a trade-deadline post on the front page for discussion of deals, or no deals, made on deadline day.