I’ll forgive you – because I want to forgive myself – if your mind immediately pairs this disappointing loss with the one earlier this year in St. Louis where the Cubs tagged Carlos Martinez for 5 runs in the first inning, led 8-4 in the 6th, and still lost. Or maybe you pair it with the heartbreaker at Wrigley, where the Cubs lost on a two-run, two-out, two-strike homer by Jhonny Peralta in the 9th. If those three games go the other way, the Cubs are just 1.5 games behind the Cardinals right now. Brutal, eh?
As it stands, the Cubs fall back to 7.5 out, and that’s probably that for the Central. Let’s be really clear: it became an extreme long shot months ago, so I’d be hard pressed to tell you to be disappointed about that specifically today.
About the loss, though, well, there’s plenty of disappointment to go around. Getting the sweep would have been great, and the Cubs were so close, up 3-1 in the 8th when the bullpen imploded in nearly equal parts Strop-Richard-Rodney. It’ll happen sometimes against good teams, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it when it does (and it also doesn’t mean you’d be wrong to be nervous going forward).
Jon Lester was great today, and the decision to pull him after 105 pitches will probably be second-guessed, though I’m not sure that’s fair. The greater issue today, in my opinion, was the many, many squandered opportunities for the Cubs’ to add to their lead earlier in the game. Sometimes you won’t come through with runners on base, and, however they’re doing it, that’s something the Cardinals’ pitchers have been historically good at doing to other teams this year.
Just a bummer of a game.