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Cardinals 8, Cubs 3: E-5, E-6, E-6

Horrific defense by the Cubs lost this one.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

This game was going along reasonably well, the Cubs trailing just 1-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth with Alec Mills throwing nicely, when Patrick Wisdom and Javier Báez literally threw it away.

With one out in the inning, Wisdom threw wildly on a ground ball that should probably have been the second out. Difficult play? Maybe, but he’s made those before.

Yadier Molina singled and Tommy Edman walked and then Tyler O’Neill hit a ground ball to short. Oh, no, Javy, what were you thinking? [VIDEO]

Watching the video, it looks like Báez wants to scoop the ball, tag Yadi, then throw home for a spectacular double play. Instead, he booted it and everyone was safe.

On the very next pitch [VIDEO]...

That throw went in the general direction of I-64, which runs behind the stadium. Instead of being out of the inning with no runs scoring, Mills and the Cubs trail 3-0, and two more runs scored later in the frame. Right there that was enough runs to win, but a couple of Cardinals homers came later and St. Louis ran away with this game 8-3.

Báez was also 0-for-3 in the game with two strikeouts. Now if you were a scout at this game from a team thinking about trading for Javy, what kind of report would you send your boss? Yikes, who would want to trade for that kind of performance?

All four runs in that inning were unearned. Mills deserved better. This all could have been even worse if not for a nice grab by Rafael Ortega on this long drive in the bottom of the first [VIDEO].

I have been critical of Ortega in the past, so let me say that he’s played much better lately. He had two hits in this game along with that catch and over his last 13 games he is hitting .391/.440/.522 (9-for-23) with three doubles. At age 30 Ortega is no prospect, but he might be settling into a role as a fourth or fifth outfielder for the Cubs going forward.

The Cubs made one attempt to get back in the game. In the very next inning, top of the fifth, they loaded the bases with nobody out. Ian Happ stepped to the plate to bat for Mills. Here’s a chance for Happ to redeem himself and maybe start a rally!

Here’s what happened [VIDEO].

Happ, who is having a miserable season and who has essentially been benched, hit into a double play. A run scored, big whoop.

One inning later, Keegan Thompson put the game out of reach by serving up back-to-back homers to Dylan Carlson (with a runner on) and Paul Goldschmidt to make it 8-1.

Wisdom made it 8-2 in the seventh [VIDEO].

That’s 14 homers for Wisdom. I am on record as saying he’ll hit 27 and break the Cubs rookie record, and... well, that’s still possible. It might be the only thing to root for in this season that’s circling the drain.

The Cubs scored one more run in the eighth on a groundout by Kris Bryant. You don’t really want to see that, do you? You do? All right, here [VIDEO].

Dillon Maples, on his return from the injured list, threw a scoreless inning without walking anyone, so there’s that.

Since this game was being televised by ESPN with no blackouts, I decided to watch the second half on that channel just to see how different it was from Marquee’s. I have to say that in many ways that was preferable. Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez and Tim Kurkjian did a competent, professional job without a lot of distractions, except when they were making up bizarre possible Cubs trades (no, guys, the Cubs are not going to trade BOTH Anthony Rizzo and Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox).

The Cubs are not winning largely because they are putting themselves in a hole early. Over the first four games of this road trip they have scored two runs — total — in the first four innings (both Friday night in Arizona). That’s not a way to play winning baseball.

These two teams will play again tonight in St. Louis. Trevor Williams will start for the Cubs. At this writing the Cardinals had not yet named a starting pitcher, and this is an ominous tweet from a Cardinals beat writer:

“Commish” appears to be, per Zachary Silver’s Twitter bio photo, his dog. Hope the two of them are OK. And then came this from another Cardinals beat writer:

Johan Oviedo is currently at Triple-A Memphis and would be on regular rest for tonight, so... stay tuned.

Game time Tuesday is again 7:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.