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Cardinals 3, Cubs 2: Missed opportunities

The Cubs had a lot of chances to put this game away, but couldn’t.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Here is the summary of the primary reason the Cubs lost 3-2 to the Cardinals in 10 innings Wednesday evening:

As you can see, the Cubs had a tremendous number of chances to score more than two runs, but failed over and over and over. They had eight hits, two walks and four batters hit by pitches. They left RISP in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th innings.

Need I go on?

Yes, I must, because you came here for a recap of this loss and by gum, you shall have one.

The Cubs scored first, in the third inning, beginning with a runner NOT in scoring position — Nico Hoerner, who had singled. One out later, Rafael Ortega drove him in [VIDEO].

I don’t know what’s gotten into Ortega. He’s a 30-year-old journeyman playing for his fifth MLB team (and in his eighth organization). David Ross decided to lead off the hot-hitting Ortega and it paid off with a 2-for-3 night, until Ortega was removed for a pinch-hitter. While he’s hot? Sure, play him. Just know this is likely ephemeral.

Kyle Hendricks was once again throwing a fine game, nursing that 1-0 lead. I had the thought that Ross might lift him after the sixth, because in that inning Hendricks gave up three long fly balls, all for outs, and a sharp single to Tyler O’Neill.

But Hendricks had thrown 86 pitches through six and Ross apparently thought he could squeeze one more inning out of him by allowing him to bat. The Cubs had a runner on second with two out at the time Hendricks batted in the top of the seventh, but he struck out to end the inning.

Kyle recorded the first out of the seventh on a popped-up bunt after a leadoff single by Paul DeJong. But then Harrison Bader doubled DeJong in, tying the game, and Ross removed Hendricks in favor of Andrew Chafin, as the next two hitters were lefthanded.

Chafin, who’s been so good this year, got Matt Carpenter for the second out, but Dylan Carlson doubled in Bader to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead, the second run charged to Hendricks. The Professor put together another fine outing, but all he got was another no-decision.

The Cubs put runners on first and second with two out in the eighth, but could not score.

Then they put together a really nice two-out rally to tie the game in the ninth. Nico Hoerner was hit by a pitch and Eric Sogard was sent up to pinch hit [VIDEO].

You know, it’s funny. That RBI double by Sogard — just his eighth extra-base hit in 180 plate appearances — might be the last thing he does as a Cub. The Cubs plan to activate Matt Duffy from the injured list Thursday — he was shown on the TV broadcast Wednesday in the dugout, and there would be no reason for him to be in St. Louis unless he was going to be activated — and they’ll need both a 26-man and 40-man roster spot, as Duffy is currently on the 60-day IL. Giving Sogard a DFA would be a way to do both. There are other possibilities, but that one makes the most sense, to me, anyway.

So the game is now tied. Cardinals pitchers continued their HBP parade by hitting both Jake Marisnick and Willson Contreras, loading the bases with two out. Anthony Rizzo, who has made a career out of being hit by pitches, was the next hitter, but he grounded out to end the inning.

Keegan Thompson allowed a couple of baserunners in the ninth, enough that Ross brought in Craig Kimbrel to try to send the game to extras, which he did by striking out Paul Goldschmidt.

Rizzo was the Manfred man for the Cubs, and Javier Báez singled to right, too sharply for Rizzo to score. Runners on first and third, nobody out, this is a good thing, right?

Ian Happ batted next [VIDEO].

This looks like bonehead baserunning but it really isn’t. Rizzo was stuck in a situation where there’s no good option. If he breaks for the plate on contact, he’s likely thrown out easily. If that happens, there’s only one out, but runners on first and second. Instead, Rizzo tried to get himself into a rundown long enough for Happ to get in scoring position, which he did.

Rizzo blamed himself, though:

Anyway, after Patrick Wisdom was intentionally passed, Robinson Chirinos flied to center to end the inning.

Which meant we were treated to the sight of Chirinos playing second base (with Wisdom moving to right field, a position he had played once in his career, and Nico Hoerner at third). Chirinos was originally signed as an infielder — he didn’t convert to catching until 2008 — but that’s the last time he played any significant time at second.

The reason for Chirinos being in the game at all was that Kris Bryant was the only other position player who hadn’t played, and KB was not available:

In any case, it didn’t matter, as no one hit the ball Chirinos’ way. Craig Kimbrel wound up giving the winning run on a single by Yadier Molina. Of the six total runs (two earned) Kimbrel has given up this year, five of them have come in extra innings. Guess Kimbrel just doesn’t care to pitch with the Manfred man on base.

I mentioned missed opportunities earlier, and some of those have to be credited to Cardinals defense. Harrison Bader robbed Contreras of a home run in the first inning [VIDEO].

The Cubs had runners on first and third in the third with two out and ran themselves out of the inning [VIDEO].

Nolan Arenado made a slick play and nailed Contreras at the plate in the sixth [VIDEO].

Yet another fantastic play by Arenado, robbing Nico of a hit in the seventh [VIDEO].

So the Cubs had plenty of chances in this game, they just couldn’t cash in, and give the Cardinals some credit for playing excellent defense. Hendricks deserved better, although his personal winning streak remains intact due to the no-decision, for whatever that’s worth.

The Cubs will try to salvage a series split Thursday evening in St. Louis. Adbert Alzolay will start for the Cubs and Kwang Hyun Kim is the scheduled starter for the Cardinals. Game time is an hour earlier than the three previous games in this set — 6:15 p.m. CT — and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.