I’ve been writing these recaps for a very long time, and I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve featured a player in the headline before he’s even made his MLB debut, and he gets the feature photo, too.
But this is the thing you likely want to talk about today:
The Chicago Cubs are calling up top first base prospect Matt Mervis, sources tell ESPN. He's expected to join the team tomorrow as it returns home to start a series against Miami. Mervis, 25, was hitting .286/.402/.560 with six HR in 24 games at Triple-A Iowa. Big power prospect.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 4, 2023
So the Cubs will welcome Matt Mervis to the team at Wrigley Field Friday after finishing a horrendous 1-6 road trip with yet another one-run loss, 4-3 to the Nationals at Washington Thursday afternoon. Of the six losses on the trip, five were by one run. More on Mervis after a few thoughts about this loss.
Jameson Taillon threw three innings, and truth be told he didn’t pitch too badly, making just one real mistake, serving up a three-run homer to Lane Thomas.
Meanwhile, the Cubs did absolutely nothing with Patrick Corbin for the first seven innings. They had just one hit off him over that span, a pop fly hit by Cody Bellinger into short left field in the second inning that CJ Abrams lost in the sun. The ball hit him in the foot and dropped for a hit. And despite the claims of Boog and JD that should be ruled an error, nope nope nope, I can tell you as someone who has actually been an official scorer, that’s a hit. The ball was not misplayed by Abrams, he didn’t touch the ball, it touched him. Every official scorer in the league would have scored that a hit.
In any case, the more important thing is: How on Earth did the Cubs make Corbin look like Sandy Koufax? In 79 starts from the beginning of 2020 before today, Corbin had posted a 5.79 ERA and 1.581 WHIP and had allowed 80 — EIGHTY! — home runs in those starts. He’s pretty much been the worst starter in baseball since at least the beginning of 2021. And yet... Cubs hitters couldn’t do a thing with him.
Until the eighth, when Bellinger and Patrick Wisdom led off the inning with singles. Trey Mancini then smacked this ball high off the right-field wall [VIDEO].
That missed being a three-run homer by about six inches. Mancini’s double made it 3-1 with Wisdom holding at third. One out later, Miguel Amaya registered his first MLB run batted in [VIDEO].
Congrats to Amaya, and also a nice thing for his parents, who were at Nationals Park watching.
While all this was going on, Javier Assad had shut down the Nats on just two singles in five solid innings, his best outing of the season and going back to last year, maybe even the best of his MLB career. The Nats were just pounding balls into the ground; of the 15 outs Assad recorded, eight of them were ground outs. Assad threw 50 pitches (33 strikes) and I might have even been inclined to send him out for the ninth, but we don’t know if he was on a pitch limit or whether he told David Ross he was done.
The Cubs had an excellent chance to take the lead in the top of the ninth. Ian Happ led off with a walk — the only walk of the game. Seiya Suzuki followed with a double, putting runners on second and third with nobody out. But Bellinger and Wisdom struck out and Mancini flied to right and the game went to the bottom of the ninth tied.
You know, I think I might have sent Michael Fulmer out for the ninth instead of Brad Boxberger. But there Boxberger was, and there went his very first pitch to Alex Call out of the yard for a walkoff homer.
We do not yet know who will be removed from the active roster to make room for Mervis. The Cubs don’t have to take anyone off the 40-man roster, as there’s currently an open spot (unless they’re saving that for relief help). It will clearly be either Eric Hosmer or Edwin Rios. I’d speculate at this time it’ll probably be Hosmer — the team doesn’t really seem to have room for Hosmer, Mervis AND Mancini, all first-base types. Rios, at least, can sort-of play third base, and also has options if they want to send him down at some point for (say) Christopher Morel. As always, we await developments.
One more thing about this game:
That makes this the Cubs’ first sub-two hour regular season game in more than 13 years. The last one was September 25, 2009, a one-hit, 3-0 shutout thrown by Carlos Zambrano against the Giants in San Francisco that took 1:56. The last time the Cubs played a game in 1:55 or shorter was June 21, 2002, a 2-1 win over the Cardinals thrown by Jon Lieber that took 1:49. That’s also the last sub-two hour game at Wrigley Field. Perhaps we’ll get one of those at Wrigley soon.
In the meantime, the Cubs will certainly be happy to see Wrigley Field again after this road trip. They will open a three-game series against the Marlins (what, THEM again?) Friday afternoon at 1:20 p.m. CT. Justin Steele will start for the Cubs and Edward Cabrera will go for Miami. TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and the game will also be on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Marlins market territories).
Who should have pitched the ninth inning for the Cubs?
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