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Cardinals 5, Cubs 3: RISPy business

Once again, the Cubs had tons of baserunners stranded.

Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/Getty Images

I have a question.

Why did the Cubs add Anderson Espinoza to the roster Sunday and not even warm him up until they were trailing by two in the 11th inning? Rowan Wick, who attempted (and failed) to close the game in the ninth inning, had thrown 38 pitches on Saturday.

Sigh. The Cubs lost another extra-inning affair to the Cardinals Sunday night, 5-3 in 11 innings.

Let’s rewind to the beginning.

Once again, the Cubs scored in the first inning. Willson Contreras walked with one out. Happ doubled him to third and Contreras scored on this sacrifice fly by Frank Schwindel [VIDEO].

I have questions!

What are you doing, Ian Happ? You’re already in scoring position on second base! Why try to take third? It’s going to take a hit to bring you in anyway with two out.

Sigh.

Justin Steele threw very well for the first four innings, allowing just a pair of singles. The Cubs added a run in the fourth with two out. Nico Hoerner blooped a double to left and Jason Heyward singled him in [VIDEO].

Nice piece of hitting, that was. How many times this year have we seen opposing hitters do that, go the other way against the shift? Good to see a Cub do it.

The Cardinals plated a pair against Steele in the fifth, and as has happened several times this year there was an error charged to Patrick Wisdom on a throw that should have been handled by Schwindel, as noted here:

That allowed Paul Goldschmidt, who had singled, to take second. He scored on a single by Nolan Arenado, and that run turned out to be really, really important.

Steele threw seven solid innings, allowing two runs (one earned). He struck out only one, but kept the Cardinals off balance and this was a very good outing against a strong hitting team.

The Cubs made a mistake in the sixth. Wisdom doubled with one out. Rafael Ortega then singled to right [VIDEO].

That was a terrible send — and Willie Harris did send Wisdom, I could see that clearly from the bleachers — especially with just one out. There are lots of ways to score a runner from third with one out, and had Wisdom held that would have put runners on first and third with one out. Instead, there’s just a runner on first with two out and Hoerner’s fly ball ended the inning. The play was sent to review, but ruled “call confirmed.”

Wisdom is a good baserunner and made that play closer than it might have been otherwise, but it was still not the right thing to do, in my view.

The Cubs took the lead off Genesis Cabrera in the eighth. Wisdom again doubled with one out and scored on this double by pinch-hitter P.J. Higgins [VIDEO].

That should be enough for any team with a good closer. And the Cubs have one in David Robertson... but he wasn’t available, either, having thrown 39 pitches Saturday.

So Wick was chosen, and Harrison Bader led off with a triple. One out later he was singled in and the game was tied.

The Cubs went down 1-2-3 in the ninth, and extras happened for the second straight game. Daniel Norris managed to retire the Cardinals 1-2-3 in the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the inning, Happ grounded out, advancing Contreras, who was the placed runner, to third.

Clint Frazier batted for Alfonso Rivas. Why not try a squeeze here?

But the Cubs didn’t, and Frazier struck out. Wisdom was intentionally passed for Higgins, who hit a comebacker to end the inning.

Norris had a good 10th, but his luck ran out in the 11th, when he allowed a pair of RBI hits to make it 5-3. The Cubs went down meekly against Cabrera — who threw 58 pitches! — in the bottom of the 10th, and the game, series and homestand went on the “L” side.

We all know this is not a very good Cubs team. Yet, they hung in with the two best teams in the division for nine games, going 4-5. It might have been better if the Cubs could hit with RISP. Once again, they had a lousy night doing that, going 3-for-15 and stranding 11 runners.

Game note: Christopher Morel’s one-out single in the third extended his on-base streak to 20 games. Only 14 players have had a longer streak to start their career. The MLB record is 47, set by Alvin Davis in 1984 — that might be out of reach. But the NL record is 29 games, set by Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter in 1938, and that could be within range. Stay tuned

The Cubs have Monday off, then begin a five-game road trip to AL East cities, beginning in Baltimore. They’ll face the Orioles in a two-game series beginning Tuesday night at 6:05 p.m. CT. Keegan Thompson will start for the Cubs and Kyle Bradish will start for Baltimore. TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.