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Padres 5, Cubs 0: Bring on the ball and strike challenge system

This game featured some of the worst calls ever, courtesy plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

This recap of the Cubs’ 5-0 loss to the Padres Monday in San Diego is going to be a bit different than many others you read here.

First, because the Cubs had only four hits — all singles — and the all-righthanded lineup against Blake Snell looked about as impotent as the mostly-lefthanded lineup did Saturday vs. Yu Darvish.

But mainly, this game recap is going to be different because of plate umpire Phil Cuzzi.

CB Bucknor, Laz Diaz and Angel Hernandez are the umpire names we often bring up when talking about, well, umpires who aren’t very good. But Cuzzi has to be added to that group, and not just because of this game — Cuzzi has been a bad umpire for many, many years, as noted in this article from The Comeback.

Now, let me make this clear: The Cubs didn’t lose this game because of Phil Cuzzi. On the other hand, he sure didn’t help them, especially in the first two innings. Dansby Swanson got called out on strikes on... seriously, that’s not a strike:

Seiya Suzuki got called out on strikes on... well, that’s closer, but at least one of those pitches is not a strike.

The Cubs had two baserunners in the first inning. Nico Hoerner led off with a walk and Ian Happ singled after the Swanson “strikeout.” If more of those pitches are called correctly, maybe the Cubs score a run or two; they certainly had Blake Snell on the ropes, as he threw a bunch of pitches that weren’t strikes that got called strikes.

Top of the second, same thing — Miguel Amaya got called out on strikes on a pitch that was absolutely, positively ball four:

Rick Sutcliffe got all up in arms about these calls, and he’s right:

David Ross finally had had enough over this ball two call on Gary Sanchez, and got tossed [VIDEO].

You can hear Rick Sutcliffe’s righteous anger over those calls on the video clip, and he was right. The ump scorecard won’t be out until later this morning, but I imagine it’ll show at least a +1 and maybe even +2 for the Padres for potential runs. This had to be one of the worst-called games in many, many years.

The challenge system for balls and strikes is now being tested in Triple-A. If we had that system in effect in MLB this year, several of Cuzzi’s calls in the first two innings — both the ones that favored Snell and went against Hendricks — would likely have been overturned. Would it have made a difference in the game? Maybe not, but let’s get the calls right. I am hoping the challenge system will be in effect in MLB next year. Here’s another visual depiction of how bad Cuzzi’s strike zone was:

Honestly, I thought Hendricks threw pretty well. Six hits and four runs in six innings isn’t awful, and he didn’t walk anyone. He made one mistake, and Sanchez smacked it for a two-run homer, and the game was effectively over at that point.

Here’s a breakdown of Hendricks’ outing [VIDEO].

Here’s the only real complaint department call from this game, beyond the awful umpiring: While Ross put together that all-righthanded lineup against Snell, he apparently didn’t take into account Snell’s reverse splits this year. Including Monday’s game, LHB have an .885 OPS against Snell this year, and RHB are at just .687.

So the Cubs split the four-game series in San Diego, which I think was what many of us (including me) had thought would be a good result, and completed their season series against San Diego by winning four of seven. Honestly, the best thing about this game was that it ran just 2:29, meaning it ended about 10:40 Central time, not an unreasonable ending time for a West Coast night game.

Now they head up the California coast to Anaheim, where they will take on the Angels in a three-game series beginning tonight. Hayden Wesneski, filling in for Justin Steele while Steele is on the IL, will get the start for the Cubs. Tyler Anderson will start for the Angels. Game time is 8:38 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and MLB Network outside the Cubs and Angels market territories).