The smile on Michael Hermosillo’s face at the top of this recap belies the fact that the Cubs played a very similar game Friday night to the one Thursday, and lost to the Pirates again 4-2, their fourth loss in a row.
Decent relief pitching? Check.
Early run scoring, then nothing? Check.
This is becoming a pattern that the Cubs need to break, and fast.
Drew Smyly wasn’t quite as sharp as he had been in his first two starts. The Pirates touched him up for a pair of runs in the second inning, and single runs in the fourth and fifth on solo homers. It wasn’t a bad outing... but it wasn’t a very good one, either.
The Cubs trailed 2-0 when walks drawn by Patrick Wisdom and Yan Gomes put two runners on with two out in the second inning. Michael Hermosillo drove them both in [VIDEO].
That didn’t miss being a three-run homer by much, but two runs it was.
That was all the Cubs could muster, though, and the two aforementioned solo homers were the difference in the game.
I can’t say enough good things about Keegan Thompson, though. He entered the game after a bloop single by Daniel Vogelbach off Smyly led off the sixth. (Yet another opposite-field hit by the Pirates, you’d think maybe the Cubs would adjust shifting after all this.) Two pitches into his outing, Thompson had two outs, on a double play. Thompson finished the game, throwing four innings and allowing two singles and a walk, striking out four. He recorded 12 outs on an efficient 48 pitches (34 strikes). Here are the four strikeouts [VIDEO].
More on Thompson:
Since 1990, only Wade Davis (14.1 IP in 2017) and Brad Wieck (17 IP in 2021) have a longer scoreless innings streak to being a season among #Cubs relievers than Keegan Thompson's 13.2 IP.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) April 23, 2022
You hear Jim Deshaies at the beginning of the clip above mentioning that Thompson might get a chance to start later this year. Maybe, but right now this long relief role seems very well suited to Thompson, who has a WHIP of 0.659 (nine baserunners among 47 batters faced) and 14 strikeouts in 13⅔ innings.
The Cubs did have a couple of chances to get back in the game. With two out in the seventh, Ian Happ walked and Nico Hoerner singled. But Nick Madrigal hit into a force play to end the inning.
And in the ninth, Jonathan Villar led off with a single, and two outs later Hoerner singled again. Nico had three hits on the night. But once again, Madrigal hit the ball on the ground for the out that ended the game.
A couple of miscellaneous thoughts:
- Villar again made an error on what should have been a routine play at third base in the first inning. It didn’t lead to any runs, as that inning ended with a double play, but really, David Ross, it’s time to end this experiment.
- Why is Ross pinch-hitting for Patrick Wisdom so often? This team doesn’t have a lot of power, so why take it out of the lineup? Rafael Ortega batted for Wisdom with two out and a runner on first in the last of the eighth. He struck out. (Wisdom could have done that.)
Lastly, about the switch in game times: I understand the reasoning, it was done in part because the forecast for Sunday is also bad, and it’s likely the team didn’t want to have to think about making up two postponements. As I wrote earlier this week, there are a lot of moving parts in deciding what to do with weather issues for games. The thing is, the forecast for Friday was known three days prior. Friday’s weather happened almost exactly as forecast back then — an all-afternoon rain followed by a dry evening (though there were a couple of annoying little rainshowers during the game). I found myself wondering whether time switch have been made the day before, instead of at 10:30 the morning of the game. I understand that city permission is needed for a game on a Friday night, again, why couldn’t that have been arranged earlier? (Maybe it was asked for and the city stalled, that’s entirely possible, another good reason for the Friday night game prohibition to be repealed.) The paid attendance was announced as 25,005; maybe 6,000 actually showed up on a raw, chilly evening.
Fortunately, the weather forecast for Saturday is much better:
Mostly sunny, with a high near 82. Breezy, with a south wind 10 to 15 mph increasing to 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph.
Now THAT is the type of Chicago April day I remember from my youth at Wrigley Field. Maybe we’ll have one of those afternoons when multiple baseballs fly out of the yard.
Kyle Hendricks will try to get his season back on track when he starts for the Cubs Saturday afternoon. Zach Thompson will go for the Pirates. Game time — this time for sure — is 1:20 p.m. CT, and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.