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2023 Cubs Heroes and Goats: Game 143

The Cubs drop their third straight, a 3-2 extra-inning loss.

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

I feel like I’m in a spot to more or less repeat what I wrote a week ago after the Cubs lost the first two to the Reds. All of the teams go through this. This is the first time the Cubs have lost three straight since July 1-3. I feel confident if I went and looked that just about everyone else has lost three straight since then. Off the top of my head, I know it just happened to the Dodgers.

It doesn’t matter, as you all know. These things happen. You always hope you can hold it off as long as is reasonably possible. You also hope that it isn’t going to happen when your starters are excellent for two straight games. This team had actually been quite good in low-scoring games before losing the last two by 1-0 and 3-2 scores. When the pitching was good, the offense almost always did its job.

They have not the last two days. Indeed, you tip the cap to a strong opponent playing well. It happens. That doesn’t make it less frustrating. The Cubs competed on Thursday. Maybe not quite as much as you’d hope against a guy who just got back from a multi-week demotion. But at least in that game, the Cubs offense applied some pressure. It really didn’t on Friday or Saturday, In Friday’s game, the team managed three hits and a walk, no runs. On Saturday, it was a little better with eight hits and five walks. One gift run in regulation and one gift run in extra time when the Diamondbacks were rightly not challenging the bonus runner.

Two runs in two days just doesn’t cut it. Now the D-backs move to within one game of the Cubs and the possibility of falling out of the second playoff spot arises. Still, without any pause, I believe this is a playoff team. But the reality is that all of these teams are jumbled up and there just isn’t a lot of margin of error. The Cubs haven’t used up all of their margin, but with series left against some excellent teams, some peril has come back into play.

In a golf analogy, I feel like the Cubs are on a long par five. The first shot was a beauty long and placed very nicely. The second shot found trouble though and didn’t get nearly enough length. All of the hazards around the hole are absolutely in play. At this point, if they dunk one in the water greenside, it could be curtains. And it’s a damn shame.

Hopefully, they’ll bounce back on Sunday and then go take care of business in Colorado at the end of a stretch of 14 games in 13 days. Three in Colorado at the tail end of a long stretch is definitely one of those hazards the Cubs have to clear on their way to trying to put this third shot close enough to have a birdie putt, even if it is a long one.

Saturday certainly felt like at least a little bit of ill timed regression. Daniel Palencia had been 5-0 cherry-picking wins in situations just like this one. Since he came up, he has been the “tie-game” pitcher. For a guy whose Achilles by a wide margin is control trouble, it felt inevitable that it would blow up one time and it is surprising it took this long, frankly.

I was left wondering in this one if Miles Mastrobuoni might have been able to go from first to home on Nick Madrigal’s double immediately following Yan Gomes’ ill-fated attempt to take two in the ninth inning. That kind of aggressive baserunning has served the Cubs well, but for three days now, aggression has worked consistently for the D-backs and just hasn’t been very successful for the Cubs.

Let’s fine three stars in an otherwise disappointing afternoon.

  1. Justin Steele. Seven innings, one run against a playoff contender. 21 innings, one run over three starts, all against contenders. I’m hopeful he’s just won himself a Cy Young. The future is never guaranteed, so you certainly hope he can grab one while he is up there.
  2. Cody Bellinger has been the top run producer in baseball in the second half of the season and it isn’t actually super close. He drove in both runs in the loss.
  3. Jeimer Candelario has been slumping. Drawing three walks is an extremely positive sign. Hopefully he’s going to bust out and get hot over these last few weeks of the season.

Game 143, September 9: Diamondbacks 3, at Cubs 2


Reminder: Heroes and Goats are determined by WPA scores and are in no way subjective.


  • Superhero: Justin Steele (.302). 7 IP, 26 batters, 6 H, R, 6 K
  • Hero: Adbert Alzolay (.136). IP, 6 batters, H, 2 BB
  • Sidekick: Julian Merryweather (.106). IP, 4 batters, BB, 2 K


  • Billy Goat: Daniel Palencia (-.303). IP, 4 batters, H, 2 R (1 ER), K, HBP, WP
  • Goat: Yan Gomes (-.242). 1-4, K, DP
  • Kid: Mike Tauchman (-.147). 0-4, BB, R

WPA Play of the Game: Adbert Alzolay faced Gabriel Moreno with the bases loaded and two outs, the game tied in the ninth. Moreno grounded out. (.171)

*Diamondbacks Play of the Game: With Tommy Pham batting in the 10th inning, there were runners on second and third with one out, the game tied. Daniel Palencia threw a wild pitch and the go ahead run scored. (.160)



Who was the Cubs Player of the Game?

This poll is closed

  • 97%
    Justin Steele
    (66 votes)
  • 1%
    Julian Merryweather
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Cody Bellinger (2-5, 2 RBI)
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Jeimer Candelario (0-1, 3BB)
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone else (leave your suggestion in the comments)
    (0 votes)
68 votes total Vote Now

Yesterday’s Winner: Jameson Taillon, 95 of 97 votes (Superhero is 97-45)

Rizzo Award Cumulative Standings: (Top 5/Bottom 5)

The award is named for Anthony Rizzo, who finished first in this category three of the first four years it was in existence and four times overall. He also recorded the highest season total ever at +65.5. The point scale is three points for a Superhero down to negative three points for a Billy Goat.

  • Cody Bellinger +43
  • Justin Steele +22
  • Ian Happ +18.5
  • Adbert Alzolay +18
  • Marcus Stroman +12
  • Dansby Swanson -13.5
  • Patrick Wisdom -15
  • Drew Smyly -17
  • Trey Mancini -20.5
  • Jameson Taillon -23

Scoreboard watching:

  • Brewers win second straight
  • Phillies win
  • Diamondbacks win fourth straight
  • Marlins lose
  • Giants win second straight
  • Reds lose three straight

The Brewers lead the Cubs by four games with 19 to play. Any chance at the N.L. Central is starting to slip away. The Phillies lead the Cubs by three and hold the first Wild Card. The Diamondbacks are a game behind the Cubs and hold the third Wild Card. The Marlins are now 1½ games back, the Giants and Reds 2½ games back. With two extra games played, the Reds technically trail the Giants.

Up Next: The Cubs will try to avoid a four-game series sweep after losing their first series since the Mets series a month ago. Kyle Hendricks (5-7, 3.73, 115⅔ IP) starts the series finale. Kyle is 1-2 with a 4.46 ERA (38⅓ IP) over his most recent seven outings. Last time he allowed four runs in just 5⅓ innings against the Giants earlier on this homestand.

24-year-old righty Brandon Pfaadt (1-8, 6.27, 74⅔ IP) starts this one for the snakes. Pfaadt was the fifth-round pick for the Diamondbacks in the pandemic-shortened 2020 draft (149th overall). He’s lost his last two starts, allowing eight earned runs in 7⅔ innings. The Cubs need to win this one and even more, the offense needs to bust out and give Kyle something to work with.