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Cardinals 6, Cubs 0: This space, once again, intentionally left blank

You felt like the Cubs look in that photo. Right?

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

I am going to tell you all about — or, well, some of the things about — the Cubs’ 6-0 loss to the Cardinals Saturday night, but first, a joke! (Thanks go to Mike Bojanowski, who told me this joke as the late innings of Saturday’s game droned on.)

A man walks down the street one night and passes a house which local lore has long held to be haunted, though the man has never noticed anything unusual.

But on this particular night, a thin, piping voice emanates from behind the front door, plaintively repeating a single word:

“Thirteen ... thirteen ... thirteen ... ”

His curiosity aroused, the man walks up to the house, but as he approaches the front door, the voice ceases. Coming up to the door, the man sees that a hole has been drilled through its center, just large enough to peek through. As he places his eye to the opening, a long, bony finger thrusts through it, delivering a poke worthy of a Stooges short.

As the man staggers back, the voice begins again:

“Fourteen ... fourteen ... fourteen ... ”

That is how this game felt. Like a poke in the eye. That, without a doubt, was the most miserable experience I have ever had at Wrigley Field. Yes, the weather has been more wretched for many games at Wrigley, including the horrific conditions under which they played April 14, 2018 against the Braves, when it was 38 degrees at game time and they played in a steady light rain and wind.

But the Cubs won that game 14-10 in amazing fashion, coming back from an eight-run deficit. So that game was actually enjoyable despite the weather.

This one, though? No redeeming features whatsoever. A steady light rain throughout, at least it wasn’t 38 degrees (although it felt more like September than July), and there was little or no wind, and lousy Cubs baseball.

Yuck. And all of this in front of the largest announced crowd of the year, 39,368.

Here, let me give you a bit more yuck and another plea for the automated strike zone.

Situation: Top of the fifth inning. It’s 2-0 Cardinals, the second run having scored on a home run by Paul Goldschmidt that was last seen bouncing on the north side of Waveland Avenue:

Pretty sure that ball went farther than this:

Anyway, one out later, Tyler O’Neill singled and David Ross lifted Zach Davies. Davies wasn’t going to pitch past the fifth anyway, as he had run a high pitch count early and was at 99 pitches. Adam Morgan was summoned to pitch to Matt Carpenter. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt countered by sending Tommy Edman up to bat for Carpenter. At that point there might have still been a chance for the Cubs to come back, down only two runs.

Then this happened:

As you can see, Morgan had struck out Edman with pitch 5 — right down the middle, low but clearly in the strike zone. That’s a really good pitcher’s pitch.

But plate umpire Alfonso Marquez called that pitch ball 2, and Edman sent Morgan’s next pitch out of the yard:

Bring on the robot umpires. Please. The sooner the better.

That was the ballgame, right there, and to add insult to insult, Dan Winkler came in and served up a home-run ball to Paul DeJong, who absolutely wears Cubs pitching out.

Incidentally, here’s hoping we have seen the last of Morgan in a Cubs uniform, I’m sure he’s a nice human being and is kind to his mother and likes animals, but he simply is not a major-league pitcher.

The Cubs might have had a chance to come from two runs down, but six runs behind? The offense was ... well, it wasn’t at Wrigley Field Saturday evening, the Cubs managed just six hits and got just three runners past first base, only once after the third inning (a seventh-inning double by Nico Hoerner).

Thus I don’t have any Cubs video to show you from Saturday’s contest, but I thought you’d be interested in seeing this. Nico has been doing this little workout just before game time every day since he’s been back from the injured list:

And then there’s this from Willson Contreras:

Afterward, catcher Willson Contreras issued a stinging indictment of his teammates for phoning it in. Asked if the effort was there, he replied:

“No, I don’t, to be honest. I feel like everybody was off. Everybody was distracted. I don’t know why. Probably because the All-Star break is pretty close. (Sunday) is the last day of the first half. I don’t think that way, but I didn’t think we were on today.”

Contreras said he considers himself a team leader but didn’t feel like he could say anything to his teammates about the effort.

“I think there is a lot going on,” he said. “There are a lot of things I’d like to say, but I’d rather keep it to myself than say it. That’s it.”

None of that is good.

Weather permitting — and I’m kind of hoping it doesn’t, the Cubs could postpone this game and make it up September 27, when the weather might actually be warmer and nicer — the Cubs and Cardinals will wrap this series and head into the All-Star break Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Trevor Williams will start for the Cubs and Adam Wainwright is the scheduled starter for St. Louis. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.