If you were not yet convinced that MLB is messing with the baseball, what happened to Frank Schwindel in Tuesday’s 5-4 Cubs loss to the Padres ought to do that convincing.
Setting the stage: The Cubs have already scored a run off Padres closer Taylor Rogers in the top of the ninth — the first run he’d allowed this season — and nearly scored a second, tying the game, when Rogers threw a pitch way outside to Patrick Wisdom. Padres catcher Austin Nola did a great job of snagging that ball. Wisdom was eventually hit by a pitch, loading the bases with two out.
Schwindel was sent up to pinch hit for Alfonso Rivas, who had homered earlier. Schwindel didn’t have a good game in the series opener, striking out in all three of his plate appearances after his entertaining journey Monday to San Diego.
Rogers threw ball one, then Schwindel fouled off a pair of pitches.
Off the bat, that ball looked like it was headed to the second deck in left field at Petco Park. But it did not carry, not the way baseballs used to before this year. Jurickson Profar caught it a couple of feet short of a pinch grand slam for Frank. The Cubs challenged it because why not, otherwise the game is over, saying that the ball hit the wall before Profar caught it. It didn’t, and the game was indeed over, a truly heartbreaking way to lose.
I’m not wrong thinking that baseball should have left the yard:
As I like to say here, that ball was crushed! A .710 xBA means that 71 percent of the time, that’s at least a hit. Frank had thought he was the hero:
Frank Schwindel on near go-ahead grand slam in 9th falling short by foot for final out: “I mean, I didn't celebrate it or anything, but I thought I hit it good enough to go for sure.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) May 11, 2022
“It was a perfect situation to be in, that’s one you dream of as a kid.” pic.twitter.com/XW0KQKgKhJ
Frank Schwindel vs Taylor Rogers#ItsDifferentHere— Would it dong? (@would_it_dong) May 11, 2022
Exit velo: 102.5 mph
Launch angle: 33 deg
Proj. distance: 357 ft
This would have been a home run in 5/30 MLB ballparks
CHC (4) @ SD (5)
Again, this appears to be more proof that MLB is deadening the baseball. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe Dr. Meredith Wills, who has been studying this for quite some time. This Twitter thread is worth reading in its entirety:
Based on what we’ve seen of the new dead ball and its response to humidity, I suspect the changes MLB implemented in its “concern for improving consistency” may have led to the least consistent ball the game has ever seen. 1/https://t.co/JrAOxmqwtf pic.twitter.com/dgG2qKNiDg— Dr. Meredith Wills (@Bbl_Astrophyscs) May 10, 2022
Let’s review the rest of this tough, tough loss.
The Cubs had a chance to score in the first inning with Rafael Ortega and Willson Contreras leading off with singles. But Ortega was caught between third and home in a rundown on a contact play and the Cubs finished the inning scoreless. The Padres scored a pair in the bottom of the inning, one on an infield grounder to Patrick Wisdom that Wil Myers beat out for a hit, the other on a bases-loaded walk. That was the biggest issue for Wade Miley in his first Cubs start — walks, five of them in all.
The Cubs tied the game at 2 in the third. Ian Happ singled with one out and one out later, Rivas brought him home [VIDEO].
As you can see, the ball bounced off Jose Azocar’s glove and over the wall. Those count just the same as balls that go 430+ feet, though.
In the bottom of the third, again walks hurt Miley, two of them after two out, and a single made it 3-2 Padres.
Nico Hoerner flashed some glove in the fourth on this ball deep in the hole hit by Manny Machado [VIDEO].
The Cubs knotted it up again in the fifth. Ortega singled and Contreras walked, and one out later Ortega took off for third [VIDEO].
Ortega was credited with a steal of third — the first such steal by the Cubs this year — and scored on Nola’s throwing error.
The Padres put a pair on the board in the sixth and that’s where it stayed, 5-3 Padres, until the ninth inning.
Before Schwindel’s almost-slam, Seiya Suzuki, who had not started due to his slightly tweaked ankle from Monday evening, pinch-singled with two out. Ildemaro Vargas ran for Suzuki and took second on defensive indifference. Contreras was hit by a pitch, and Ian Happ made it 5-4 [VIDEO].
And that’s where we came in — the almost-wild pitch that would have scored Contreras and tied the game, Wisdom being hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Schwindel’s blast that likely would have been a slam if not for MLB messing with the baseball.
That is a very, very tough way to lose a game. Give the Cubs credit for the ninth-inning rally and scoring a run off a closer who had been lights-out in 12 previous appearances this year. Moral victory? Maybe, but those don’t count in the standings. I did like the way the Cubs played this game, they stayed in it to the very end against a very good team. The loss drops the Cubs to 2-7 in one-run games.
At the time this recap posted (8 a.m. CT), the Cubs do not have a starter listed for Wednesday’s game. This will likely be another “opener” game with Keegan Thompson taking over after an inning or two. I have no inside info, but Sean Newcomb, who’s been mostly buried in the Cubs bullpen, hasn’t appeared in a game since he threw 12 pitches in Saturday’s first game against the Dodgers, so he would seem the most likely opener. Nick Martinez will go for San Diego. Today is an afternoon game at 3:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.