I have been super-critical of Rowan Wick here lately, and so after he pitched pretty well in extra innings I was ready to give him some props.
Look, I understand David Bote isn’t an experienced first baseman but there was plenty of time to measure and make that throw and Wick... just threw it into right field. Two Red Sox runs scored and that was enough for them to defeat the Cubs 4-2 in 11 innings on a sun-kissed Sunday at Wrigley Field.
Sigh. That was another really good ballgame up to that point.
So let’s rewind to the beginning.
The Cubs put a run on the board in the first inning — again. They’re really good at that, tied for second with the Cardinals for first-inning runs this year (58). If only the other innings could be as good.
Rafael Ortega led off with a double and Willson Contreras drove him in [VIDEO].
Keegan Thompson threw pretty well through three, getting a pair of inning-ending double plays, and then the Red Sox dinked and dunked him in the fourth. A pair of infield hits put runners on first and third (after a wild pitch) and then this happened [VIDEO].
Yes, I understand the sun is tough to play but major league infielders have to make that play — have to. This again shows how important defense is, and the Cubs’ defense, let’s be honest, is pretty shoddy.
That scored one run, and another hit loaded the bases. Thompson recorded the second out, then walked Jarren Duran to force in the second run.
Thompson had to be removed after four with a high pitch count (86, only 48 strikes). I didn’t think he pitched too badly, but that defense... also, the ball dropped above should have been ruled an error, not a hit, in my opinion. That would have made one of the runs unearned.
The game stayed 2-1 into the bottom of the eighth. Good Cubs relief work from Matt Swarmer, Brandon Hughes and Scott Effross (four combined innings, four hits, six strikeouts) kept things close. Here’s another example of bad defense, even though this ball was caught for an out [VIDEO].
In the bottom of the eighth, Patrick Wisdom sent a ball soaring deep into the bleachers [VIDEO].
The Cubs have started showing detailed diagrams of home runs on the video board:
One thing that’s shown on that graphic that isn’t usually available via Statcast is the “apex,” in other words how high the ball flew at its peak. That’s interesting data and I wish it were more generally available.
Anyway, the game was tied heading to the ninth. Chris Martin set the Red Sox down 1-2-3 but the Cubs could not score, posting only a two-out walk in that inning.
So extras came, and this time some good defense was played by the Cubs. After a groundout and walk put the placed runner on third, Wisdom made this nice throw home on a contact play [VIDEO].
So the game headed to the bottom of the 10th still tied. Ian Happ was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second, but two fly outs and a strikeout ended that inning.
Then the top of the 11th ensued, and the Cubs were one good throw from Wick from getting out of the inning. But, as noted above, that didn’t happen, and the Red Sox took the lead. The Cubs did get the tying run on base with one out in the bottom of the 11th on a walk drawn by Nelson Velázquez, but Christopher Morel and Narciso Crook struck out to end it.
You know, there are three names you probably didn’t expect to see in the Cubs lineup this year when it began, but here we are. All three have played well, but this game... not so much.
Frustrating, but the Cubs did play a very good team pretty much even all weekend, and three good ballgames in good weather... well, that made for at least an entertaining baseball weekend, especially with tons of Red Sox fans at Wrigley. All the ones I saw or spoke to were friendly and good fans, it was nice to have them in the ballpark. We even got serenaded with a chorus of “Yankees suck” as the game drew to a close.
The Cubs will begin a road trip Monday afternoon against the Brewers in Milwaukee. Justin Steele will start for the Cubs and Eric Lauer gets the call for the Brewers. Game time Monday is 3:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.