This is something that’s been eminently clear for the 2020 Chicago Cubs for several weeks now.
They are simply not going to win if the offense vanishes.
Kyle Hendricks did his valiant best to keep the game close, but a three-run homer by Corey Dickerson — a Cubs-killer from his Pirates and Rockies days — put the game almost out of reasonable reach for the feeble Cubs offense. Another homer off Jeremy Jeffress made it pretty much impossible and the Cubs lost Game 1 of the wild-card series to the Marlins 5-1.
Things started out reasonably well. Hendricks didn’t allow a hit for three innings, though he walked a pair. A double in the fourth didn’t result in a run for the Marlins and then the wheels began to fall off for Kyle. He hit Jon Berti leading off the fourth. He’d hit only one batter in 12 starts and 81⅓ innings this season. That seemed to throw him off his rhythm. Benti stole second — the first steal off Kyle this year. Miguel Rojas then reached on a bad throw by Javier Baez with Benti stealing second. Hendricks got Chad Wallach to hit into a double play, but then Benti reached third on what was originally called a wild pitch, but later changed to a passed ball on Willson Contreras. Kyle got out of the inning on a groundout, but there’s at least one extra hitter he had to face.
Ian Happ gave the Cubs the lead in the bottom of the fifth [VIDEO].
Right there I thought, “Well, Kyle, there’s your run,” and that turned out to be true. That one was oppo into the teeth of a 20 mile per hour crosswind, just barely making it into the empty bleachers:
Wind blowing out toward right field. Ian Happ cuts through it the opposite way for a two-out homer in the 5th.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) September 30, 2020
Cubs take a 1-0 lead on the Fish. pic.twitter.com/aFFg4zyKqq
That wind, blowing out to right field, didn’t help fly balls by Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber hit later on that you might have thought would be home runs.
The seventh inning began quietly with a comebacker, but then the Marlins put runners on first and second with singles.
It seems to me that David Ross should have had a lefthander ready to face Dickerson, who hits LHP significantly worse than RHP, especially since Hendricks was already at 105 pitches.
But he didn’t, and Dickerson deposited Hendricks’ 106th pitch of the afternoon into the seats for a three-run homer.
You know, maybe the Cubs can mount a comeback if it’s just a two-run deficit, but Jeremy Jeffress made things worse by allowing a leadoff single to Starling Marte and a two-run shot to his former Brewer teammate Jesus Aguilar. The wind didn’t help Cubs fly balls much, but it did give Aguilar’s a boost. Go figure.
The Cubs went quietly in the seventh and eighth and after a brief bit of hope from a leadoff double by Contreras in the ninth, the next three hitters went quietly and the game was over.
Four hits. That’s it. Not more than one hit in any single inning. Besides Happ’s home run, just three Cubs got past first base. That’s just not going to cut it.
Give Marlins pitchers credit. Sandy Alcantara is a good young talent and he had Cubs hitters off-balance all afternoon with a fastball that touched 97 and some good breaking stuff. Hendricks did fine until it suddenly fell apart in the seventh. But when you’re talking a best-of-three series at your own ballpark, you kind of have to win the first game to set the tone for the series.
You don’t want to hear this but I suppose I have to mention it just for history’s sake — the Cubs franchise has now lost four straight postseason games to the Marlins franchise, a club that’s never lost a playoff series. It’d be nice to end that streak.
The Marlins might have lost Marte after this HBP by Dan Winkler in the ninth [VIDEO].
Marte had to leave the game, and I hope he’s all right.
Now it’s an elimination game for the Cubs with Yu Darvish going Thursday afternoon. Darvish has been generally outstanding this year and now he’s going to need to be to send this series to a decisive Game 3. Sixto Sanchez will be the starter for the Marlins. Game time Thursday is again 1:08 p.m. CT and TV coverage is on ABC-7 Chicago and other ABC over-the-air affiliates nationally.
About my witnessing a game in person for the first time since Spring Training, I’ll have more to say about that tomorrow morning. At least I learned that I haven’t forgotten how to keep score.
It’s not over yet. But the bats are simply going to have to start hitting.