I am a person who is predisposed to find the cosmic in the mundane, which means it becomes very difficult for me to watch a game like last night’s – complete with a dramatic, late, exhilarating comeback by the Cubs, and then somehow a loss thereafter – and not wonder what we’re supposed to take from it. For the Cubs players, of course, you hope they take little more than a crummy loss and move on to the next. For fans, though, it’s almost like we’re being asked to repay the first month and a half of the season, when everything went the Cubs’ way, and joy was cheap. We bought, it seems, on credit.
Last night’s loss, against a bad Braves team, after a multi-week stretch of disappointment, was almost perfectly scripted to inflict maximum disappointment in Cubs fans. I look forward to the moment when the universe decides we’ve had enough of that experience, and turns us on our axis. It feels almost impossible now, but there is still fun to be had this year.
- About last night, I do have to shake my head a little bit about a guy (Nick Markakis) hitting two home runs after coming into the game with just two (and hitting only three all of last season). I know folks want to rail on Hector Rondon “blowing another save,” but how many times will one singular mistake of a pitch burn you that much? A guy can’t be that perfect. Rondon did strike out three in the inning.
- I also don’t think this is a game where you can say, overall, “the bullpen blew it again.” With an assist from Kyle Hendricks, the bullpen threw six innings and allowed two runs. That’s pretty good.
- What was more impactful in the game, in terms of the Cubs losing, I think were the three double plays – one of which was a liner to center that Kris Bryant misread at second base – that just killed three great scoring opportunities. That includes Addison Russell’s grounder with men on first and second and nobody out in the 11th. I’ve seen a lot of people questioning why he wasn’t asked to bunt in that situation, but that feels like a bit of hindsighting. I’m not sure people would have wanted to see him square around in that moment if he actually had. For me, with Russell, I’d rather run the comparably small risk of a double play than ask him to give away an out in the hope that it successfully advances the runners (bunting is not always successful!) for Jeimer Candelario.
- Joe Maddon said after the game that Kris Bryant started to stiffen up a bit after he was hit in the knee by a breaking pitch, and that’s why he was removed from the game. Hopefully he’ll be good to go today.
- Jason Hammel also left the game early, and it was because of a cramp in his thumb. The high humidity games seem to be especially tough for Hammel, who left a game earlier this year due to cramping in his hamstring. It doesn’t seem like it’ll be an injury issue, though.
- In addition to the loss, itself, the Cubs lose again by virtue of having a late game that was delayed go 11 innings on the night before they were to head to Pittsburgh. You could not have scripted it any worse for the Cubs to be in prime position to take on the Pirates.
- The night was much worse for a fan in the outfield who fell onto the field during the rain delay before the game. The fan was attended to by medical personnel, and transported to the hospital from there. The Cubs were not able to comment on the fan’s condition beyond that.
- Dexter Fowler will head to South Bend today to DH in their game, and then play in the field tomorrow (Cubs.com). If he feels good in those games, he’ll likely play in Tuesday’s All-Star Game before returning to the big league team out of the break.
- Michael mentioned it in the MLBits yesterday, but there’s a Cubs-specific angle, too, as Keith Law had a couple Cubs – Kris Bryant and Addison Russell – on his top 25 players under 25 list. I think you could also make an argument for Javy Baez and Willson Contreras as honorable mentions, though they aren’t on there.
- I enjoyed reading Jon Lester’s thoughts on Willson Contreras, who will catch the lefty tomorrow, since David Ross is on the DL. Michael also wrote at length about Contreras yesterday, if you missed it. After his three-hit night last night, including a dramatic triple to give the Cubs the lead (temporarily, sigh), Contreras is now hitting an absurd .319/.397/.623 through his first 78 plate appearances.
- Contreras also was in the center of a benches-clearing situation in the 9th inning, after Hector Rondon threw inside to Jeff Francoeur. Having seen three Cubs hit in the game already, Francoeur perhaps thought Rondon’s pitch was intentional and didn’t care for the way Contreras reacted to the pitch. He stared down Contreras, who eventually stood up to face Francoeur and the benches emptied as the two exchanged more words. You can watch the play here.