It’s almost over, but we soldier on to the end.
The Cubs lost 4-3 to the Brewers in 10 excruciating innings Friday evening in Milwaukee. Their postseason chances are almost over, and I’ll get to that in a bit.
First, a look back at this defeat, the Cubs’ fourth in a row and 11th in their last 15 games.
Kyle Hendricks and former Cub Colin Rea matched zeroes for three innings, and ... how the heck is a journeyman like Rea doing that? (The answer probably is: “The Cubs are just done.”)
In the fourth, the first two Brewers made outs. The first of those was on this slick play by Nico Hoerner [VIDEO].
Hendricks wrapped that inning without allowing any runs, so the game continued to the fifth scoreless. But in the bottom of that fifth inning, two singles and a walk loaded the bases with nobody out for the Brewers. A force play made it 1-0, but then Carlos Santana tripled in two more.
Yes. A triple by Carlos Santana, who likely is one of the slowest men in Major League Baseball. A triple by Carlos Santana, who before Friday had not hit a triple since May 2019.
Sigh. That’s about par for the course for these Chicago Cubs.
Julian Merryweather struck out a pair and so 3-0 was the score after five.
I have seen elsewhere sentiments about this perhaps being the final game for Hendricks as a Cub. I do not believe that will be the case; to me it seems a no-brainer for the Cubs to pick up Hendricks’ 2024 option, and perhaps even sign him to an extension. He had a good year and personally, I think Kyle should never pitch a game in another uniform.
The Cubs couldn’t score in the fifth or sixth and in that sixth inning, this happened [VIDEO].
Hoerner fouled a ball off his left knee, eventually grounding out in that at-bat. He stayed in the game for another inning, but was replaced by Miles Mastrobuoni in the eighth. This is good news:
X-rays were negative on Nico Hoerner’s left knee, per Cubs.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) September 30, 2023
I imagine he’ll be pretty sore today. He’ll probably play if he can as long as the Cubs are still alive in the playoff race.
The game went to the eighth with the Cubs still down 3-0.
On the first pitch of that inning, Jeimer Candelario made it 3-1 [VIDEO].
That was Candelario’s sixth homer as a Cub this year and 22nd overall.
Christopher Morel followed with this odd little triple [VIDEO].
I say “odd” because the Brewers simply assumed that was a double. Christian Yelich casually flipped the ball back to the infield and Josh Donaldson, who took the relay throw, just... stood there as Morel took third.
That mattered, because Morel then scored on Yan Gomes’ groundout [VIDEO].
That made it 3-2 and Adbert Alzolay, returning from the injured list, threw a scoreless eighth. I had to wonder why Alzolay wasn’t saved for a potential save situation.
But the Cubs could score no more, and so it went to the bottom of the ninth, where Dansby Swanson helped keep the Cubs in the game with two fine defensive plays.
You see those kinds of plays and think, “Hmm. Perhaps the Cubs are destined to win this one.”
It was not to be. They could not score in the top of the 10th, even after loading the bases. Patrick Wisdom struck out to end the inning. On a 1-2 pitch up and out of the strike zone... thrown by a guy making his MLB debut [VIDEO].
Well, maybe the Cubs can send it to the 11th.
Nope. Santana hit Cuas’ third pitch of the bottom of the 10th for a walkoff double and the game was over. The loss dropped the Cubs’ record in one-run games to 21-23 and it was their third one-run loss this week. The Cubs’ record in extra-inning games dropped to 3-5 and they haven’t won a game in extras since August 24.
So, the Cubs’ playoff hopes boil down to this: They must win both their remaining games. The Pirates must beat the Marlins twice. If those two things happen, then the Mets must come back in the bottom of the ninth Monday afternoon in the resumption of their rain-delayed game from last Thursday and beat the Marlins.
Oh, also, the Reds have to lose at least one of their last two games. They beat the Cardinals 19-2 Friday evening.
Could that happen? Sure. Is it likely? Of course not. Fangraphs says the Cubs’ postseason chances are down to 3.9 percent and frankly, that seems a bit high.
Nevertheless, stranger things HAVE happened. Maybe the Cubs have one last 2023 miracle left in them. One of this team’s best qualities is that they never quit. That’s been rewarding to watch.
Game 161 will be Saturday evening in Milwaukee. Jordan Wicks will start for the Cubs and Eric Lauer will go for the Brewers. Game time is 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.