There was an inkling of what the Cubs’ night was going to be like in the first inning, when Christopher Morel walked and Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch. Potential rally!
Unfortunately, Morel was caught trying to steal third and Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki made routine outs. No Cub reached base after that until the sixth inning, when Nelson Velázquez walked.
In the interim, two Cubs errors helped lead to all the Giants runs in a 4-2 defeat that ended both the Cubs’ six-game winning streak and the Giants’ seven-game losing streak.
In the bottom of the third with the game scoreless, Mike Yastrzemski hit a popup to the left side of the infield. Patrick Wisdom should have caught it, but... [VIDEO].
You can see that for a moment, he didn’t know where the ball was, perhaps lost in the lights. He was charged with an error, even though it didn’t appear he ever touched the ball. Yastrzemski wound up on second base. A single moved him to third, but then Justin Steele struck out Darin Ruf. The inning should have been over there, but the error extended it, and the Giants took advantage. A hit batter loaded the bases and Yermin Mercedes, the former White Sox, was the next hitter. Mercedes ran the count full, then fouled off four pitches in a row before singling in two runs. Another Giants single made it 3-0, all unearned runs off Steele.
The Giants extended the lead to 4-0 in the fourth thanks to another Cubs error, this one by Nico Hoerner. David Villar (no relation to Jonathan) hit what should have been a routine grounder to Hoerner, but Nico threw the ball away, rushing a throw that didn’t have to be rushed. A strikeout and groundout followed and the inning again should have been over, but with the error, Austin Slater’s double scored Villar.
Steele was then lifted. He deserved better. Though he ran some long counts, he walked just one and struck out six. Credit to the Cubs bullpen (Erich Uelmen, Brandon Hughes and Chris Martin) for throwing 4⅓ shutout innings of relief, allowing two hits and two walks and striking out six, and at least keeping the game close.
The Cubs were held hitless through six innings by Alex Wood until Ian Happ led off the seventh with a single [VIDEO].
Happ was wild-pitched to second, but the next two hitters made routine outs, with Happ advancing to third. That brought up Wisdom [VIDEO].
You can see the ball bounce off the top of the wall and into the seats, and there was a crew chief review to see if there had been fan interference. You can also see a fan reach out toward the ball, but he never got in the fielder’s way.
For Wisdom, it was his 18th home run of the season and first since July 3, a span of 76 plate appearances. Wisdom can be a very streaky hitter, here’s hoping this is the start of one of his home run streaks.
Unfortunately, that was it for the Cubs. Happ singled with one out in the ninth, which brought the tying run to the plate, but Suzuki and Hoerner both struck out to end the game.
Summary: This loss again points up the importance of good defense. While it wasn’t a great outing for Steele, his pitching was probably good enough to go at least five, maybe six innings. The errors brought up hitters who shouldn’t have been batting and created more pressure on Steele.
Beyond that, both Happ and Contreras played the entire game and I suspect that if either or both are traded, it won’t happen before Monday’s off day. Feel free to use this recap thread for trade deadline discussion. One trade was completed late Thursday:
The Mets are acquiring Tyler Naquin and Philip Diehl from the Reds— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 29, 2022
The Reds will receive minor leaguers Jose Acuna and Hector Rodriguez from the Mets, per source.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 29, 2022
As always... we await developments.
In the meantime, there is another Cubs game against the Giants Friday. Marcus Stroman will start for the Cubs and Alex Cobb gets the call for the Giants. Game time is 9:15 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Apple TV+.