I know that it’s hard for folks when the Cubs lose a close one, especially against the White Sox, but there were some positives in this one. Of course, in close losses, the positives often come with an attending frustration. And this one had frustration in spades.
Jake Arrieta’s stuff was nasty tonight, and his command was plenty good enough … for five innings. Unfortunately, that command left him in the sixth, and, although that won’t always burn you in a big way, it did tonight.
Justin Grimm once again looked really good … but the Cubs were already down 4-0 at that point.
The Cubs had more hits and more walks than the White Sox … but still lost.
The Cubs came back to tie the game at four in the 9th … but lost on a walk-off in the bottom of the frame.
It was a good night for Kris Bryant at the plate (a couple solid singles and a would-be homer that was robbed) … but not on the base paths. The Cubs missed out on an early run chance when Bryant rounded first on a single with Baez coming from second, but being held at third. Then Bryant was thrown out at second trying to take two on a single with no outs in the 9th. Both were bad decisions (that may or may not have been entirely on Bryant). In the 9th, it really cost the Cubs, as the next two batters singled. What might have been.
Similarly, what might have been if Jason Heyward were still in center field when the game-winning hit bounced out there and Matt Szczur was unable to make a play. We know that Heyward had a sublime gun out there. But Heyward had been moved to right field when Szczur entered the game in the top of the 9th … with two outs … as a pinch runner … replacing Anthony Rizzo … with Heyward at bat.
Maddon has done that before (specifically Szczur pinch-running for Rizzo in the 9th inning, in fact), but never quite that shockingly. I look forward to better understanding the thinking there, because I must be missing a reason why that’s not obviously a terrible decision. I’m not being sarcastic: my assumption here is that I must be missing something. Rizzo did not appear injured. The incremental upgrade on the bases seems really small for the tradeoff of losing a hitter like Rizzo for the rest of the game. But, seriously, maybe I am misapprehending the math that underlies the decision. I’ve never done or seen the calculation.
As I said, it was a mixed night, but ultimately extremely frustrating.