Last night’s game felt like it belonged to the Mets for a while, but it’s really not that hard to imagine a couple of the Cubs’ liners being a foot to the left or the right and maybe it’s an even tighter game. You just can’t do that to yourself, though, (Brett). Won’t get you anywhere good. Besides, I already said my conflicted piece this morning.
- The good news is it’s also not hard to imagine the Cubs winning tonight behind Jake Arrieta, and heading back to Chicago with the series tied at one. For their part, as you’d expect, Cubs players are not showing any signs of concern after the loss (Cubs.com, CSN). And Jake Arrieta is ready to roll (Cubs.com).
- Jesse Rogers looks at the two key plays at the plate from the game last night, and while I wouldn’t go quite so far as to say they were the swings in the game, we know that they were huge plays that could have gone in either direction, and Rogers sums them up well. On the first, Castro admitted he didn’t run hard out of the box on his double – who knows if it could have been a triple, which would have probably yielded a run – but not scoring on the Javy Baez single was not his fault. For one thing, because the ball was hit low and in front of him with one out, he had to hesitate before he could break for third. You combine that with Yoenis Cespedes arm, and Castro was dead meat, even though the throw was a bit to the right. I thought it was a bad send the moment it happened, and I still think it now, despite me usually being a very “aggressive send” guy (I’ve defended a lot of the close sends by third base coach Gary Jones this year – this one, though, I just think he made a mistake). Folks say “yeah, but David Ross and Jon Lester were next” … I’d still rather take my chances there than with a charging Cespedes merely needing to get the ball to the catcher within eight feet of the plate to nail Castro easily.
- On the second one, Kyle Schwarber caught a fly ball, made a decent throw to the plate, but Miguel Montero’s apparent positioning behind the plate made it impossible for him to apply a tag to get out a tagging Juan Lagares. On our initial, and even subsequent views, it was a bizarre play, because it looked like Montero never gave himself a chance:
- After the game, though, and on review, everyone seems to agree that the ball came at Montero in an awkward spot with an awkward hop, such that he was left with a choice of trying to simultaneously reach, tag, and snag a short-hop (a play catchers almost never pull off), or backing up and receiving the ball and then trying to get forward to make the tag. From the sound of things – from guys who play the position – it was just going to be a tough play no matter what for Montero, despite the throw appearing to get there in time.
- Jon Lester’s performance was not great last night – he was obviously missing his good cutter – but it wasn’t all that bad. A couple mistakes got punished (as they have seemed to consistently this postseason against all Cubs pitchers), and he got just four whiffs the entire game. That’s an extremely low total for him, and it definitely played a part in the loss – more balls in play means more opportunities for bloops to fall (they did) and for runners to score from third with fewer than two outs (they did). It wasn’t a terrible outing. It just wasn’t a dominant one. Hopefully he’s ready to bounce back in Game 5 at Wrigley Field.
- Kudos to Justin Grimm, Clayton Richard, and Trevor Cahill for solid work out of the bullpen and keeping things close.
- Batted ball classification is a strange thing. In this ESPN piece about the Cubs hitting Harvey hard – harder last night than most teams did this year – the data culled by ESPN indicates the Cubs had just four “hard hit” balls: the Castro liner to center, the Castro bullet that was caught, the Schwarber bullet that was caught, and the Schwarber homer. Without thinking too hard, I can immediately come up with another: the Fowler rocket that drilled Harvey. How is that not “hard hit”? I’m pretty sure Harvey would say that was hard hit …
- A great read from Jim Callis on how the Cubs landed on Kyle Schwarber as their pick in the first round of the 2014 draft.