Look at it this way.
The Cubs weren’t likely to sweep this series in New York, and looking at the pitching matchups, Monday’s between Drew Smyly (who’s had a rough time lately) and Kodai Senga (who’s been very good recently) seemed the likely one the Cubs would lose.
The game went true to form, then, as Smyly got pounded again and the Cubs were crushed 11-2, their worst loss since a 13-3 thrashing by the Giants almost two months ago, June 11 in San Francisco. (FWIW: After that loss, the Cubs won five straight.)
The game started out poorly for Smyly and the Cubs. Smyly allowed a one-out walk and single and then Pete Alonso smashed one high into the New York night for a 3-0 Mets lead.
Everyone could have gone home then, since that would have been enough runs for a Mets win.
But onward they went, because nine innings constitute a baseball game.
The Cubs got a run back in the top of the third. Nick Madrigal and Mike Tauchman led off with singles. The next two Cubs were routine outs, but Cody Bellinger then smacked this RBI hit to right [VIDEO].
But Smyly got hit again in the bottom of the inning. After a one-out single by Francisco Lindor, Alonso came up again.
It’s not standard practice to intentionally pass hitters in the third inning with runners on base. And the Cubs have not made a practice of doing that at all this year — David Ross has ordered only three IBB the entire season to date.
Maybe they should have thought about doing that, because Alonso hit a baseball even farther the second time [VIDEO].
The Cubs again chipped into the lead in the fifth. After two were out, Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ singled, and once again, Bellinger singled in a run [VIDEO].
Bellinger went 3-for-3 and raised his BA to .332. He has 347 plate appearances. At this time, 350 are needed to qualify to be listed among league leaders. If he qualified, that BA would rank fourth among N.L. hitters. He should be qualified by the end of this week.
Smyly gutted it out for two more innings and allowed two more runs in the fifth (including one on a bases-loaded walk) before Caleb Kilian entered and recorded three outs on just five pitches, including inducing a double-play ball. That seemed kind of a waste of Kilian, because a two-hour, nine-minute rain delay ensued, ensuring Kilian could not return.
Daniel Palencia threw the seventh and issued a pair of walks and a three-run homer to Danny Mendick, and I’m thinking it might be time for Palencia to go back to Iowa to work on command and control. Palencia throws hard — 100-plus — but doesn’t always know where it’s going, and he has walked eight batters in 11 MLB innings.
Tucker Barnhart again entertained by throwing his 37 mile per hour “eephus” pitches in the eighth. His streak of scoreless innings ended at three when he allowed three singles and a run, completing the Mets scoring.
To circle back to the lede of this recap, this game didn’t seem like it was winnable even before Alonso’s first-inning homer. Smyly’s season ERA is now over 5.00 and over his last eight outings (six starts and two others where an opener preceded him), it’s 9.00 with 12 (!) home runs allowed in 35 innings. Yikes. It seems to me Smyly could be injured, as Marcus Stroman finally admitted he was, and an injured list stint could be helpful. In the BCB After Dark article posted earlier this morning, Josh Timmers asks you who you think should be the Cubs’ fifth starter, so go vote. In my view, it shouldn’t be Smyly, at least for a little while.
The loss, combined with the Reds and Brewers winning, put the Cubs one game out of the last wild card spot and 2½ games out of first place. Plenty of time remains so that shouldn’t be a huge concern.
One last note on this game: It likely didn’t have any effect on the final score, but the ball-and-strike calls by plate umpire Ramon De Jesus were pretty bad, on both sides. I’ll be interested in seeing the ump scorecard later this morning. Be better, umpires, and personally I can’t wait for the ball-and-strike challenge system to come to MLB.
Tuesday’s matchup at Citi Field would appear to be more favorable to the Cubs. Jameson Taillon gets the start against Mets righthander Carlos Carrasco. Game time is again 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.