This series was set up to be one of the biggest mismatches in Cubs history.
The Cardinals came into this game having won 18 of 19, including a four-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field last weekend.
The Cubs, meanwhile, entered it on the downswing, including losing a number of players who likely went on the COVID-19 list, though that was not specifically stated.
And yet, this motley group of Cubs played the Cardinals even for eight innings, with solid pitching and a timely home run, before succumbing in the ninth and losing 4-3.
Cory Abbott, making his first major-league start, performed well. He threw five innings, allowed four hits and two walks and struck out four. Unfortunately, two of those four hits were solo home runs served up to Tyler O’Neill, who has absolutely worn out Cubs pitching this year (.298/.344/.579, 17-for-57, five home runs).
He also batted for the first time in MLB and... dribbled a ball down the 3B line for a hit! [VIDEO]
So the game entered the sixth inning with the Cubs down 2-0.
Rafael Ortega led off that inning with a walk, but was immediately erased on a double play. The Cubs then drew more walks: Ian Happ, who stole second, and Matt Duffy. At that point Cardinals pitcher Genesis Cabrera left the game with what was reported as a blister.
T.J. McFarland replaced Cabrera and threw four pitches to Trayce Thompson. Thompson deposited the fourth one into the left-field seats [VIDEO].
Thompson has a very odd slash line in 13 games with the Cubs: .190/.393/.667. He’s 4-for-21 and three of the hits are home runs. He’s also walked seven times. I mean... those numbers play, even with the low BA. Thompson is no kid, he’ll be 31 next March. But he might be in the mix to be a fifth outfielder with the team in 2022.
Anyway, the Cubs had a 3-2 lead. Could they hold it?
Well, you already know the answer to that question. Here’s how that all happened.
The Cardinals tied the game in the bottom of the sixth off Scott Effross. O’Neill doubled and was singled in by Lars Nootbaar.
In the top of the seventh, new Cubs catcher Erick Castillo recorded his first MLB hit [VIDEO].
Adbert Alzolay threw two strong scoreless innings in relief, the seventh and eighth. That’s likely his final outing of 2021, so it was good to see him go out on a high note. Alzolay got helped out by this homer-stealing catch by Ortega [VIDEO].
The Cubs had a chance to take the lead in the ninth. Willson Contreras, pinch-hitting, led off with a double. Johneshwy Fargas attempted to sacrifice him to third, but popped up the bunt.
Oh, no, Willson, what were you thinking? That’s a pretty bad TOOTBLAN. He ran right through Willie Harris’ stop sign and was out easily. If Contreras holds at third, the Cubs have runners on first and third with one out — maybe even second and third if O’Neill’s throw goes through, because Ortega did wind up taking second base on the throw to the plate.
But no. Now there are two out and Ortega’s on second, still a chance to score, but Frank Schwindel grounded to short to end the inning.
Incidentally, the legend of Schwindel has apparently been put away, for a while, at least. Schwindel recently had a 13-game hitting streak which is tied for the Cubs’ longest in 2021 (with Kris Bryant). But in six games since that streak Frank the Tank is hitting just .179/.233/.214 (5-for-28). He’s still not striking out much, just four times in those six games, but I hope he can have a good final two games of the season to end on a high note.
If the Cubs had taken the lead in the top of the ninth, Rowan Wick likely would have entered to close. Instead, David Ross called on Tommy Nance, who allowed a one-out walk and single. After Nance recorded a second out, Ross summoned Wick. Paul Goldschmidt singled in the winning run.
Like I said, the Cubs played the Cardinals pretty close all evening. They’re just clearly an inferior team right now and the Cardinals took advantage.
A couple of other notes from this game:
Who's on first? Abbott & Castillo.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) October 2, 2021
Each had their first career hit today. That makes them the 1st Cubs batterymates in the Modern Era (since 1900) to get their 1st knocks in their 1st MLB start in the same game. Per Elias, again.
In Saturday’s second game of this series, weather permitting, we’ll see our old buddy Jon Lester starting for the Cardinals. Adrian Sampson gets the call for the Cubs. You have a choice of viewing tonight. The game will be on Marquee Sports Network as usual, but it is also being carried by Fox-TV (regional — coverage map). Game time is 6:15 p.m. CT.
If you have the choice for viewing tonight’s Cubs game, which channel will you watch?
This poll is closed