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Cardinals 3, Cubs 2: Same old, same old

The score was the same as Wednesday’s, and the game felt similar.

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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs lost to the Cardinals 3-2 Thursday night in St. Louis. That makes them 9-23 over their last 32 games.

Honestly, I’m getting tired of writing recaps of defeats, but I must press onward, as the season marches to its conclusion, so here’s what happened in this game, which allowed the Cardinals to take three of four in the series.

Once again, Adbert Alzolay didn’t pitch too badly. He completed six innings and allowed just four hits while striking out eight. Unfortunately, two of those hits were home runs, a solo shot by Dylan Carlson leading off the bottom of the first inning, the other by Nolan Arenado in the third following a Carlson double.

So, yay?

Yeah, I guess yay. That was a pretty good outing from Alzolay. It qualified as a “quality start,” not that the flawed QS stat means very much (if you did that every outing, you’d have a 4.50 ERA for the season, which is pretty much where Adbert is, 4.58).

The Cubs did try to get back in the game in the fourth. With two out, Patrick Wisdom walked and Javier Báez singled.

Jake Marisnick drove them both in [VIDEO].

And then... a whole lot of nothing from Cubs bats. They had just three more baserunners, none of whom got past first base: A two-out single by Rafael Ortega in the seventh, a leadoff walk by pinch-hitter Kris Bryant in the eighth (pinch-runner Jason Heyward was erased on a double play) and a two-out walk by Báez in the ninth.

There are so few Cubs highlights from this game that MLB actually included KB’s walk, so I can show it to you [VIDEO].

This is what we have been reduced to: Watching video of a pinch-walk.

There was a scary moment in the bottom of the seventh. Dillon Maples relieved Alzolay and after he struck out Harrison Bader, he hit Edmundo Sosa in the head [VIDEO].

After Sosa sat on the ground for quite some time, he got up and took first base and remained in the game. Now, here’s another situation where the three-batter rule hurts players and managers. Maples was clearly shaken after this HBP — which was obviously not intentional. A manager should have the choice to take a pitcher like that out of the game, even though it was just Maples’ second batter faced.

The three-batter rule, like other “pace of play” initiatives from Rob Manfred (automatic intentional walk, limiting mound visits), isn’t really doing anything to pick up pace of play or speed up games. In this 2020 article in The Athletic — before the rule was used in a single game — Cliff Corcoran notes how much time it would have saved if the rule had been in effect in 2019:

... while there were 2,162 pitching appearances that lasted fewer than three batters in 2019, 1,471 of them concluded with the end of an inning or the end of the game. That leaves just 691 appearances that the three-batter minimum would have extended, and that’s before searching that sample for outings that ended in injury and thus also would have been exempt from the rule.

Over the course of the 2,429 major-league games played in 2019, those 691 pitching appearances work out to just one every 3 1/2 games. If, in every case, the new rule eliminated the mid-inning pitching change entirely, it would have made the average time of a major-league game in 2019 (drumroll, please) … 34 seconds shorter.

Thirty. Four. Seconds.

Listen up, Rob Manfred. This rule is accomplishing nothing. Kill it with fire (along with the placed runner, the “Manfred man.”)

That’s about all I’ve got on this one — except why are the Cubs playing a 1:20 p.m. game today? As they did in June coming back for a Friday game after a Thursday night game in New York, they likely could have received an exception to the night-game ordinance from the city of Chicago to play tonight. Or how about this? That ordinance permits the Cubs to schedule games as late as 4:05 p.m. without City Council approval. Why not do that? They did so in 2018 on a Friday against the Twins after a Thursday day game in Los Angeles, which meant a near-midnight arrival in Chicago — same as after the game in St. Louis Thursday. At least Thursday’s game wrapped up shortly after 9 p.m.

But here we are, a 1:20 p.m. game vs. the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field Friday afternoon. It will be Zack vs. Zac: Davies vs. Gallen. TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and also on MLB Network outside the Cubs and D-backs market territories).