The Cubs have played 11 home games so far in 2022.
The average game-time temperature has been 52 — and that includes one day in the 70s. Rain has fallen during several of these games and there has been one postponement.
That rainfall was in evidence Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field in the form of an irritating mist that fell almost throughout the entire three hour, one minute game, never hard enough to stop play, but enough to keep nearly half of the 34,206 announced crowd from showing up at all. By the time the 3-1 Cubs loss to the White Sox was in the books, maybe 2,000 remained at the ol’ ballyard.
I’ve lived in Chicago all my life and I don’t think I’ve ever seen an April/early May with weather this bad. It was 45 degrees at game time Tuesday, on a day when the average high temperature in Chicago should be 65.
All right, enough of the weather rant, on to the game.
Scott Effross “started” after Drew Smyly was placed on the bereavement list. I put “started” in quotes because clearly, Effross was going to be used as an “opener,” something the Cubs have almost never done. I expected Keegan Thompson to relieve Effross, and that is, in fact, what happened.
Effross didn’t pitch badly but was victimized by a second-inning throwing error by the usually-dependable Patrick Wisdom. Wisdom threw away a routine grounder by Jose Abreu, likely having trouble getting a grip on a wet baseball. That error helped lead to two unearned White Sox runs, and really everyone could have gone home right then, because those were enough to win the game.
Thompson relieved Effross with one out in the second after Effross had thrown 18 pitches. The first hitter to face him laid down a squeeze bunt for the second run. Thompson allowed one run in 3⅔ innings, a solo homer by Tim Anderson leading off the third. Overall, though, Thompson had his usual fine outing — four hits allowed, the homer the only run. You might ask, “Then why isn’t Thompson starting?” Maybe he’s more suited to warming up this way and coming in after the game has started rather than doing what’s typical for a starter’s preparation. In any case, this role seems to be really good for him.
The Cubs did have their chances against Michael Kopech. They had two runners on with one out in the third, but Seiya Suzuki lined a ball that was snagged by Abreu for an unassisted double play. Let’s talk about one of those baserunners, Alfonso Rivas, who fouled off 10 of Kopech’s 14 pitches before drawing a walk:
Alfonso Rivas drew a walk at the end of a 14-pitch battle with Michael Kopech in the 3rd inning. pic.twitter.com/sZvmWqBsTc— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) May 4, 2022
Rivas seems very well suited for the leadoff spot. I hope David Ross keeps him there.
The Cubs then loaded the bases with two out in the fourth, but Yan Gomes grounded out. After Nick Madrigal led off the fifth with a hit, Kopech was removed, but the Sox turned yet another double play on Rivas’ grounder to first.
The Cubs finally broke through in the sixth. Ian Happ led off with a walk. Two strikeouts later, Jason Heyward singled and Hoerner drove in Happ with a double [VIDEO].
You can see how misty and drizzly and foggy it was in that clip.
Hoerner’s double represented the Cubs’ last baserunner of the game. Gomes struck out to end that inning and the Cubs went down in order in the seventh, eighth and ninth, even while Michael Rucker, Mychal Givens and Chris Martin were throwing scoreless relief from the sixth through the ninth.
Here, let me show you a couple of nice Cubs defensive plays.
With the pitching matchup here, either before or after Smyly’s replacement with Effross, the Cubs did not figure to win this game. Yet, there are some positives to take out of it, particularly the relief work. Here are some comments from David Ross after the game [VIDEO], including some thoughts about Rivas in the leadoff spot.
Eventually this team will come out of its offensive slump. This marks the fifth straight game (and sixth out of seven) where the Cubs have scored only one or two runs. While this isn’t an offensive juggernaut, I am convinced they’re better than that.
As I noted in my article Monday, I don’t see these intercity games as anything other than two more games on the schedule. The hype that some try to make of these is very 1990s, in my view, and I’d rather have fewer Cubs/Sox games than more of them. Likely because of the weather, there weren’t any incidents in the stands that I could see, though the crowd had a sizable contingent of Sox fans.
The weather won’t be any warmer tonight, but at least it will be dry. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and Lucas Giolito gets the call for the White Sox. Game time is again 6:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on Marquee Sports Network (and also NBC Sports Chicago with the Sox announcers).