You didn’t think the Cubs were going to go 60-0 in this abbreviated season, did you?
Still, I’d have liked to see some better play than we got in the Cubs’ 8-3 loss to the Brewers Saturday afternoon.
The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Willson Contreras in the first inning. And then... the defense fell apart. Lorenzo Cain doubled with one out in the top of the second. That was followed by... this:
Lorenzo Cain is good at directing traffic. Here's the highlight. pic.twitter.com/nv3qEyTzCY— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) July 25, 2020
That’s just a total breakdown of defense. There’s no way you don’t get at least one out on that play. Cain, smartly, waved Ben Gamel back to first base because neither Anthony Rizzo nor Victor Caratini was covering the bag. That’s a fielding mistake that simply cannot be made. If one out is recorded there, Orlando Arcia’s popup ends the inning with no runs scoring — and the sequence of future batters for Milwaukee is completely changed. Gamel, then, is not up in the fourth inning with the possibility of hitting a two-run triple, which he did. (Hey, Fox PBP guy Adam Amin — that wasn’t Gamel’s first hit with the Brewers, he spent all of 2019 with them and played in 134 games and had 77 hits.)
There was a bit of a kerfuffle after the third inning, possibly about pitches that had come too far inside:
Nothing came of it, but when the Fox announcers interviewed Brewers manager Craig Counsell later, Counsell noted that with no fans in the stands, it’s easy for players to hear whatever’s coming from the other dugout. Players are going to have to adjust.
Yu Darvish’s outing ended after four innings and 73 pitches (50 strikes). He simply wasn’t as efficient as he was in the second half of last year, and that’s way too many pitches for four innings.
Still, even then it’s only 3-1. It became 4-1 when Justin Smoak clanged a ball off the right-field foul pole in the fifth off Duane Underwood Jr.
Kyle Schwarber brought the Cubs back to within 4-3 in the fifth [VIDEO].
Schwarber’s first of the year came with Javier Baez on base. 4-3 is still a manageable deficit in the middle innings... but middle relief failed the Cubs today, with the Brewers scoring a pair of runs off both Brad Wieck and James Norwood, the runs off Wieck coming on a two-run shot by Christian Yelich.
The Cubs are simply going to have to get better relief work if things are going to work out in this sprint of a season. They can’t have Kyle Hendricks throwing complete-game shutouts every day, much as that would be a happy thought.
Rex Brothers and Dillon Maples threw scoreless frames, and I was particularly happy to see that from Maples, especially after his bad outing against the Twins on Wednesday. Maples’ slider is filthy and if he can harness that 97 mile per hour fastball, he can be an important contributor to this year’s bullpen:
1-2-3 ninth inning for Dillon Maples, who topped 3,000 RPM with his slider six times (via Statcast). Highest was 3,396. Flashed that elite stuff and commanded through Smoak, Garcia and Narvaez.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 25, 2020
Also as noted by Jordan Bastian:
For anyone who cares, the system looks to have initially read all 14 pitches by Maples as four-seamers, but if you scan the velo in here, looks like 10 sliders and 4 fastballs: https://t.co/l38miS9VD1— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) July 25, 2020
That’s about all I’ve got for this one, a clunker. Hey, they happen, even to good teams.
As far as the broadcast, Fox’s fake fans looked... fake. They’re taken directly from MLB The Show, and for those of you who have watched our BCB simulated Cubs season, you’ve seen quite a bit of them. Those “fans” don’t really look nor act like real people. Plus, if they’re going to do it during a real game... do it the entire time. Just putting the phony fans in from time to time and (at one point) showing viewers how they can change colors on the ersatz rooters’ clothing makes it feel like they’re just doing it to show off the technology. Sure, we get it, it works, but to me it didn’t really add anything to the broadcast.
At the risk of being accused of causing pain to a deceased equine, I wanted to call your attention to Fox’s scorebox:
While I’d prefer it in the upper left, as I have previously mentioned, that box is easy to read. The white-on-black scheme has good contrast, the runners on base are easy to determine and you can see the pitch count and who the batter and hitter are at a glance. I would again urge Marquee Sports Network to make adjustments in their scorebox.
The Cubs still have a chance to meatloaf this series, and yes, we’ll still use that terminology even though Joe Maddon’s gone to Anaheim. Tyler Chatwood gets his first start of the year Sunday afternoon against Milwaukee’s Freddy Peralta. Game time Sunday is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on Marquee.
Incidentally, Sunday’s game is one of just 10 day games left for the Cubs this year, out of 58 remaining. Almost everything this year is being played at night, mainly thanks to the city of Chicago’s granting permission to the Cubs to play at Wrigley Field on Friday and Saturday nights. At the very least, going forward, once fans are allowed back in the ballpark the Cubs should be permitted Friday night home games on days they’re returning from road trips, which happens perhaps 3-4 times a year in a 162-game season. Get it done, Mayor Lightfoot and Ald. Tunney.