On paper, this looked like a game the Cubs could win. Adbert Alzolay had been very consistent over his last few starts, and the Cubs had hit Ryan Weathers pretty well in Wrigley Field last week.
And then... the game started. Alzolay didn’t have command, the Cubs made some valiant efforts to get back into the game, and then the Anthony Rizzo error depicted above put the ballgame out of reach. It ended up a 9-4 loss to the Padres.
Alzolay wound up leaving the game after three innings, which made sense since he had thrown 82 (!) pitches, but then there was this:
Adbert had a blister on right middle finger.— Paul Sullivan (@PWSullivan) June 8, 2021
Alzolay said the blister on his right middle finger actually developed in his previous start. Tried to pitch through it, but became an issue as his outing wore on tonight.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 8, 2021
A day to day issue. Ross said it's too soon to say if it could impact Alzolay's next turn. More tomorrow.
Oh. Well, that would at least partly explain the lack of command. He issued a season-high five walks, and they all figured somehow in the Padres scoring four runs in the first three innings.
The Cubs had a nice fourth-inning rally to make the game close, for a time, anyway. Singles by Kris Bryant and Rizzo and a walk drawn by Patrick Wisdom loaded the bases.
Ian Happ bunted the runners up. I’m not sure I like that strategy, giving up an out in the middle of what could have been a rally that got Weathers out of the game.
All right, it’s 4-3, the Cubs have a chance.
Two innings later, Keegan Thompson took them out of that chance. Thompson had thrown a scoreless fifth, but in the sixth he issued a pair of one-out walks, moved the runners up on a wild pitch, and a fielder’s choice and a sac fly scored both runners to make it 6-3.
Numbers on Happ’s seventh of the year:
It would be nice if Happ would start hitting; he’s got talent, we have seen him hit before. The Cubs don’t even need him to hit the way he hit for a time in the 2020 season. 2019 levels of performance would be just fine.
Eric Sogard singled to bring the tying run to the plate in the seventh, but Joc Pederson, batting for Thompson, hit into an inning-ending double play.
Dillon Maples was the next pitcher. He didn’t allow any runs, but hit two batters and walked another and threw only 10 strikes in 24 pitches while recording only two outs. This sums up Maples’ night:
This looks like one of those paintings where someone just flung paint at a canvas. pic.twitter.com/41eGKDHe57— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) June 8, 2021
You all know I’ve always liked Maples’ stuff and his slider but ... he just can’t seem to command his pitches on a consistent basis. Right now the Cubs still have roster room for him. When Trevor Williams comes back, or if the Cubs bring Alec Mills back from rehab assignment, they might have to finally make a decision about Maples.
At 6-4, this game still appeared in reach in the eighth, but Rizzo made the aforementioned error while Manny Machado was batting, and Machado hit the next pitch out of the yard off Cory Abbott to make it 7-4. Two more runs scored in the inning and you don’t really want the details on those, do you?
Hopefully, Alzolay’s blister doesn’t set him back and he can make his next start. Hopefully, the Cubs regroup behind Zach Davies Tuesday evening and can hit Dinelson Lamet, as they did in Chicago last week. The loss temporarily puts the Cubs in second place, half a game behind the Brewers, who were idle on Monday.
Game time Tuesday is again 9:10 p.m. CT, and I have to be honest, three hours and 42 minutes of baseball that start that late in the Central time zone are pretty tiring. TV coverage Tuesday will be on Marquee Sports Network, and also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Padres market territories).