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Rangers 8, Cubs 2: The value of defense

Saturday, Texas fumbled the ball around. Sunday, it was the Cubs’ turn.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

I’m going to show you one specific play from the Cubs’ 8-2 loss to the Rangers Sunday afternoon before we get into the full details.

Top of the second inning, Rangers leading 2-0, there’s already been an error in the inning helping one Texas run score, runners on second and third, one out.

Then this happened [VIDEO].

Trey Mancini is just not a very good right fielder. The ball dropped for a double and two runs scored, and really, everyone could have gone home right then, because the 4-0 lead would have been too much for the Cubs to overcome.

Would Seiya Suzuki have caught that ball? Impossible to tell for sure, but he’d certainly have had a better shot at it than Mancini did.

The Cubs did try to make a game of it, for a moment at least. Cody Bellinger led off the bottom of the second with a walk, and one out later Edwin Rios launched one [VIDEO].

Here are the numbers on Rios’ home run [VIDEO].

Jameson Taillon deserved better, I think; a second Cubs error, by Eric Hosmer in the fourth, made it 5-2. Taillon didn’t pitch that badly. He struck out seven and, as noted, didn’t have help from his defense. Here’s more on Taillon’s outing [VIDEO].

Javier Assad relieved Taillon in the sixth and immediately got torched for three hits from the first four batters he faced, and that produced three runs making it 8-2 and pretty much putting the game out of reach. I suspect Assad might be sent back to Triple-A Iowa to stretch out to start once Brandon Hughes is ready to return (which could be later this week). Assad threw 45 pitches (30 strikes).

The Cubs did have one more chance to get back in the game. In the bottom of the sixth they loaded the bases with two out on a pair of singles and a walk, and when Rangers manager Bruce Bochy pulled starter Jon Gray for lefthander Will Smith, David Ross sent Patrick Wisdom up to bat for Eric Hosmer.

It was the right move at the right time. Wisdom has been hot and hits lefthanders well. But Smith struck him out and that, essentially, was that.

Assad threw two more innings without incident to help save the pen, and Julian Merryweather threw a 1-2-3 ninth. So that’s good, anyway.

Some days it’s just not your day. This was one of them for the Cubs. They did take two of three from a Rangers team that’s supposed to be pretty good, and have now split their first eight games of the season and have a run differential of +7. That’s a reasonable start.

It was absolutely gorgeous at Wrigley Field Sunday, with temps in the mid 60s and light winds with unlimited sunshine. We don’t get many days like that in early April in Chicago, so I’m certainly grateful — and it’s supposed to be this nice for the rest of the week, too.

Monday, the Cubs will open a three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Seattle Mariners. Drew Smyly will start for the Cubs and our old friend from his Reds days, Luis Castillo, gets the call for Seattle. Game time Monday is 6:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.