During Spring Training, I watched Pete Crow-Armstrong play enough in the field to be reasonably certain that he could play Gold Glove-caliber defense in the major leagues — right then. That opinion was seconded by MLB scouts who had seen him play a lot more than I had.
PCA, called up Monday by the Cubs, showed off some of that defensive skill Tuesday night in Coors Field. Unfortunately, the Cubs needed better pitching and hitting than just a fielding clinic, and they dropped the second game of the series to the Rockies 6-4.
It didn’t take long for PCA’s first fielding gem — the third Rockies batter of the game, Nolan Jones, rocketed a ball to left-center.
Statcast reports the xBA (expected batting average) on that ball was .970, meaning 97 percent of the time, that’s a hit. It would have been a home run in 22 of the 30 MLB parks! It had an exit velocity of 107.1 miles per hour! That’s one of the better catches of the year by anyone.
The Cubs took the lead in the second. Dansby Swanson led off with a triple. Seiya Suzuki singled him in [VIDEO].
Yan Gomes followed with a single, moving Suzuki to third.
His speed was too much for the Rockies to even make a relay attempt. Suzuki scored to make it 2-0. But PCA then tried to take second on a ball that didn’t get far enough away from Rockies catcher Elias Diaz, and Diaz threw him out.
While all this was going on, Javier Assad was struggling. He didn’t allow any runs through three innings, but was throwing a ghastly number of pitches, which meant there would later be a parade of Cubs relievers.
In the fourth, a walk by Assad, a hit batter and another walk loaded the bases with nobody out. He got Charlie Blackmon to pop up, but Kris Bryant followed with a two-run single, tying the game. That ball... [VIDEO]
Bryant didn’t even mean to swing and two runs scored. Sheesh.
Luke Little replaced Assad, who threw 79 pitches to record 10 outs and only 40 of those pitches were strikes. He’s going to have to do better.
Little retired the first hitter he faced on a ground out, but a run scored to give the Rockies a 3-2 lead, and then Elias Diaz singled in the fourth run of the inning, all charged to Assad. Little followed by issuing a walk and throwing a wild pitch, but no further runs scored.
The score remained 4-2 Rockies until the sixth. Brad Boxberger threw a 1-2-3 fifth, so that’s good. However, what Nick Madrigal did in the top of the fifth was not [VIDEO].
That was a leadoff double. You’re already in scoring position, Nick! You’re not THAT fast. Why not just stay there? Yes, the play at third was close, but this likely cost the Cubs a scoring chance. The Cubs were, in my view, way too aggressive on the basepaths in this game.
In the sixth, Swanson singled with one out. Suzuki followed with his 17th home run [VIDEO].
If any of you were at this game, let us know what the percentage of Cubs fans was — because on that clip, they sound LOUD.
The game’s tied 4-4, but the Cubs could not hold the lead for long. Bryant homered with one out in the bottom of the sixth to give the Rox the lead again. For KB, it was his first home run in almost two months — and his first against the Cubs.
Right after Bryant’s blast, PCA did it again [VIDEO].
Same hitter — Jones — different side of center field. Yes, PCA is that good. What a show he put on in the field in this game.
The Rockies scored again off Palencia in the seventh. Meanwhile, Cubs bats went silent, going down 1-2-3 in the seventh and having just a two-out walk in the eighth.
In the ninth, the Cubs did have a chance after the first two hitters were routine outs. That included PCA, who struck out and went 0-for-4 in his first MLB start, though he did have that RBI fielder’s choice.
Nick Madrigal was hit by a pitch and Christopher Morel walked, putting the tying run on base. But Nico Hoerner was called out on strikes to end the game and he must have been badly fooled, because pitch 4 looks like a pretty good pitch to put in play, or at least foul off:
It is increasingly looking like the Cubs — presuming they can win a few! — will be a wild-card team instead of winning the N.L. Central. The Brewers defeated the Marlins Tuesday, putting the Cubs four games out of first place. But the Marlins and all the other Cubs competitors for wild-card spots (except the Reds, who beat the Tigers) lost Tuesday evening. That keeps the Cubs 1½ games behind the Phillies for the top wild-card spot and two games ahead of the Diamondbacks, who inhabit the third wild-card spot.
The Cubs will go for the series win in Colorado Wednesday afternoon. Jameson Taillon will start for the Cubs and Ty Blach gets the call for the Rockies. Game time is 2:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. The BCB game preview will post at 12 noon CT.