The Cubs went from the proverbial sublime to the ridiculous Tuesday at Wrigley Field.
In the first game, Javier Assad made a solid MLB debut and four Cubs relievers shut the Cardinals down for five innings in a nicely-played 2-0 win.
The nightcap? Uh... not so much. Adrian Sampson got hit hard and by the time it was over, the only Cubs pitcher who didn’t give up any runs was... Franmil Reyes. The ridiculous 13-3 defeat only counts once in the standings, of course.
Let’s start with the good stuff, the day game.
Assad was, to be sure, a bit shaky. He walked four and had traffic on the bases in all four of the innings he threw. He was the beneficiary of this good play at the plate [VIDEO].
Lars Nootbaar looked like he wanted to create a new dance craze with that move.
The Cubs put the only two runs they’d need on the board in the third. Christopher Morel led off with a single and went to third on a single by Zach McKinstry. Nico Hoerner’s groundout made it 1-0 [VIDEO].
McKinstry took second on the play, and after a walk by Ian Happ, Seiya Suzuki made it 2-0 [VIDEO].
Assad finally got in too much trouble to stay in the game, a leadoff double and walk in the fifth. He left to a warm ovation and Michael Rucker set down the next three Cardinals to end the threat. Rucker also threw a 1-2-3 seventh and has been quite good lately — a 2.03 ERA in 13⅓ innings since his latest recall August 2. As for Assad, I thought he threw pretty well overall despite the walks, and he’s likely to stick around and get a few more opportunities. The Cubs would have had to add him to the 40-man this winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, and so this way they can see if he’s worth keeping around.
Sean Newcomb could have gotten out of the seventh inning 1-2-3 except for a rare throwing error by Nico Hoerner. Erich Uelmen entered and allowed a single, but then completed the inning with an infield popup, and then threw a scoreless eighth.
David Ross’ choice of Brandon Hughes to close this game was interesting. A switch-hitter (Dylan Carlson) and two lefthanded hitters were due up, but the Cardinals sent up RH hitters to bat for both LH hitters, which Ross likely anticipated. This was a good test for Hughes in a save situation facing all RH hitters, and he retired all three. Here’s the final out [VIDEO].
Nice work by Hughes and I suspect he’ll get more high-leverage work as the season continues.
The night game — well, probably the less said the better. Adrian Sampson started off well, but by the third inning you could tell he didn’t have it, because he was getting hit hard even while recording outs. It all blew up in the fourth, when the Cardinals scoreod five runs, including a pair of homers.
Really, everyone could have gone home right then. The Cubs did put three on the board, so let me show you the highlights. In the sixth, Nick Madrigal led off with a walk and Rafael Ortega, batting for Happ, doubled him in [VIDEO].
Since I was at the game I didn’t hear Pat Foley calling it on Marquee, but he sounds just fine on that clip. His rendering of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” during the seventh-inning stretch was well-received at the ballpark:
Pat Foley conducts the 7th inning stretch @NHLBlackhawks pic.twitter.com/h9AXUG8hm7— Marquee Sports Network Plus (@MarqueePlus) August 24, 2022
The Cubs added two more in the eighth and for a moment, the game appeared sort-of close. With one out, Madrigal singled — yet another multi-hit game for him. He was forced at second, and went to third on a single by Suzuki. A run then scored on this wild pitch [VIDEO].
Suzuki took second on the play and scored on this double by Reyes [VIDEO].
The inning ended one batter later when McKinstry popped up.
Then the ninth became silly season. Anderson Espinoza, who had thrown three pretty good innings, ran out of gas in the ninth and issued a pair of walks and a single before being lifted for Steven Brault, who didn’t retire any of the three hitters he faced.
Ross decided he’d had enough and sent Reyes out to pitch, which at least provided some entertainment for the remnants of the crowd. Albert Pujols was sent up to pinch-hit and was hit by a pitch, and no, Gameday, these were not “changeups” or a “curveball”:
Reyes then induced a double-play ball, which scored a run, and struck out Paul DeJong, thus becoming the only Cub who pitched in this game and did not allow a run:
Franmil Reyes just struck out Paul DeJong looking on a 89.8 mph fastball to end the 9th. An efficient 10-pitch scoreless appearance for Reyes. Baseball.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) August 24, 2022
And yes, at almost 90 miles per hour, I’d definitely call that a fastball.
The Cubs haven’t swept a doubleheader from the Cardinals since June 8, 1992 and not in Wrigley Field since October 5, 1991 and those streaks remained intact after the doubleheader split. This was, for now at least (and, hopefully, for good), the last doubleheader for the Cubs this year. They’ve played six of them (five at Wrigley) and split two and been swept four times, an overall record of 2-10 in twin bills.
The series with the Cardinals continues Wednesday evening at Wrigley Field. Remember Luke Farrell? He pitched in 20 games (two starts) for the Cubs in 2018, and since then has been with the Rangers and Twins. He’s being called up from Triple-A Iowa to start Wednesday’s game. Someone will have to be removed from the 40-man roster to make room; I suspect that will wind up being Kyle Hendricks placed on the 60-day injured list, since it was announced the other day that Hendricks won’t pitch again this year. The Cardinals will counter with Miles Mikolas. Game time is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.