Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

umpire strikeThe Cubs slipped back behind the Giants last night for the second Wild Card spot. If only the Cubs had a chance to take matters into their own hands …

  • So, last night, I was feeling pretty chill about the Cubs’ loss, because, as I said, the Cubs aren’t going to win them all, and a loss to a good team in a tight game after a six-game winning streak is fine. But I also said I might grouse about some things today, and here is that grousing. It’s unfortunate that two of the runs the Pirates scored – the same as the margin of their win – were the result of infield miscues (a physical error by Kris Bryant, and then a confusion/mental error by Bryant and Starlin Castro on a grounder neither of them fielded). Another run – the final insurance run – came after a triple to right center that one of Dexter Fowler or Jorge Soler could have caught, though it would have been a tough play. All in all, it just didn’t feel like a great defensive effort from the Cubs, and you’ll have that. If they’d played great defense last night, they probably win that one by a couple runs.
  • I’m also going to complain about the strike zone. I try so hard to let it slide, and, indeed, I don’t think I’ve mentioned a strike zone here at the site in nearly a month. The last time was the Carlos Rodon zone that netted him 10 strikes outside the zone while the Cubs got zero – when it’s that ridiculous, I have to say something. And here we are again, after Jeff Locke repeatedly got strike calls on balls way inside to righties (I count five strikes called outside the zone for the Pirates, and just two for the Cubs). But that wasn’t even the most egregiously bad part. Check out the maps from Brooks Baseball, and take note of the four(!) Cubs pitches that were entirely within the strike zone – not even close to an edge – that were called balls. Poor framing? Bad eyes? Just a fluke? Whatever the case, it hurt the Cubs last night, no doubt about it.

  • I’m also going to note – not quite complain about – the Cubs’ failing with runners in scoring position once again last night, going 0-6. At .228, the Cubs have the fourth lowest batting average with runners in scoring position, which has cost them a whole lot of runs. Contrast with the new holder of the second Wild Card spot in the NL: the Giants have hit an MLB-best .295 with runners in scoring position. The Giants are at .273 overall, by the way, whereas the Cubs are at .239.
  • At least the Cubs did this:

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