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Blue Jays 5, Cubs 4: Running on empty

The Cubs did not run the bases well Monday. It might have cost them the game.

Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

TORONTOThe Cubs lost to the Blue Jays 5-4 Monday, and truth be told they probably should have won this game and scored several more runs. There were at least four questionable baserunning choices made by Cubs, as well as some odd choices by David Ross regarding pitching, that helped lead to this 11-inning defeat.

Questionable Baserunning Decision No. 1 happened in the first inning. It is depicted at the top of this recap. Ian Happ had singled with two out but got himself picked off, eventually tagged out by Jays second baseman Cavan Biggio.

The Cubs did take the lead in the third. Alfonso Rivas led off with a single and went to third on a single by Nick Madrigal, one of three Madrigal hits on the night. Rivas then scored when Willson Contreras beat this potential double-play relay [VIDEO].

The Cubs extended their lead to 2-0 in the fourth. Seiya Suzuki led off with a single and Franmil Reyes singled him to third. Nico Hoerner drove Suzuki in with a single [VIDEO].

Unfortunately, on that RBI single, Franmil Reyes made Questionable Baserunning Decision No. 2, trying to take third. He was thrown out. Psst, Franmil? You’re not that fast.

Questionable Baserunning Decision No. 3 was made by Madrigal. He singled with one out in the fifth. Contreras hit a double that bounced into the seats, so Madrigal had to stop at third.

Then Ian Happ struck out, but the third strike was dropped and so Happ ran toward first, where he was thrown out. What were you thinking, Nick? [VIDEO]

Seriously, that was dumb. Stay on third! There would have been runners on second and third with two out and Suzuki at bat, a much better chance to score runs than trying to score on a dropped third strike. I know David Ross preaches aggressiveness on the basepaths, but this... no, just no.

While all this was going on, Javier Assad was piling up scoreless innings. As he did in his first start vs. the Cardinals, Assad got into trouble in the first inning, loading the bases on two hits and a walk. He got out of that and allowed just two other hits, recording five scoreless innings. That produced this fun fact:

That’s nice, but... why wasn’t Assad sent out to at least start the sixth? He’d thrown only 80 pitches. This meant Cubs relievers had to throw at least four innings to nail down the win, and that’s been problematic this year.

The Cubs put two more on the board in the sixth. Reyes walked with one out, and one out later Rafael Ortega blooped a single to right. P.J. Higgins was sent up to bat for Rivas, and came through with a two-run double [VIDEO].

4-0 heading to the bottom of the sixth. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, you know the answer to that, but let me go into detail. Erich Uelmen threw an easy 1-2-3 sixth, but ran into trouble in the seventh after Matt Chapman extended him by working an 10-pitch leadoff walk. Me? I’d have taken Uelmen out right there. But Ross left him in and he allowed a single and then Danny Jansen smashed a three-run homer that went a long way:

Ross then lifted Uelmen for Manuel Rodriguez, who retired three Jays in a row on ground outs. Again, though, a Cubs reliever ran out of gas when asked to throw multiple innings. Rodriguez retired the first two Jays in the eighth, but then allowed a double and RBI single and the game was tied.

No one scored in the ninth and so the game went to extras. In the 10th, Nelson Velázquez was sent out to be the Manfred man, and he took off for third when it looked like Happ had sent an RBI hit to the outfield. But Bo Bichette made this nice grab for an unassisted double play [VIDEO].

I’m not going to call that one a Questionable Baserunning Decision, because it took a fine catch by Bichette to make that into a double play.

The Cubs turned a double play of their own in the bottom of the 10th to help keep the game tied, and on it was to inning number 11, where Questionable Baserunning Decision No. 4 happened.

Seiya Suzuki was the Manfred man. Reyes blooped a ball into center field that looked like it was going to be caught. When it dropped, Suzuki had to stop at third, but for some reason, Reyes tried to stretch a gift single into a double. He was thrown out easily.

The Cubs failed to score, and the Jays walked it off against Mark Leiter Jr. in the bottom of the inning.

The Cubs had 16 baserunners in this game (14 hits, two walks). They had 13 at-bats with RISP (3-for-13). They probably should have scored a lot more than four runs and won this game in nine innings’ time. Instead, their record in extra-inning games dropped to 7-12 (the 19 extra-inning affairs are the most in MLB this year) and in one-run games, they’re now 19-24.

Again: Aggressive baserunning can be good. But the choices have to be better than they were in this game. And the Cubs still haven’t won a game in Toronto since 2008.

As is always the case in Toronto, people are unfailingly polite and friendly. I was waiting in a line for food when a man, who saw me wearing Cubs gear, struck up a conversation. He told me his grandson had been drafted by the Padres, but chose to play baseball at Rutgers instead. Apparently a local TV channel did a feature on this kid and asked the grandparents for some photos. They located some of this kid when he was younger — wearing Cubs gear.

Also, the Jays gameday staff holds fans at the top of aisles during play, so people seated don’t have their views blocked by people walking down aisles. They’re allowed down between batters. What a concept.

The Cubs will try to even up this series Tuesday. Marcus Stroman, who played six years in Toronto, will start for the Cubs, and he gave this shoutout to Toronto fans on Twitter:

The Jays played a video tribute to Stroman before the game, too.

Kevin Gausman will be Toronto’s starter Tuesday. Game time is again 6:07 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.