If last night’s loss to the Cardinals taught me anything, it was a lesson baseball has taught me again and again: the game does not bend to your will. For some reason, I need that lesson about five times per year. Especially when the Cubs appear competitive.
I wanted the Cubs to win last night’s game as much as I’ve wanted them to win a game in recent memory. But the hope lasers bursting out of my soul couldn’t bless the Cubs with an extra-base hit or two, or push across a couple runs in the 9th when the Cubs put two on with one out.
- The Cubs got swept by a really good team. A team playing historically well. A team that has a 29-7(!!!) record at home this year. They’ve done it to a lot of teams, and I’m not sure how much it actually tells us about the quality of the Cubs beyond “they’re probably not as good as the Cardinals.” Sadly and frustratingly, we already knew that. All anyone can do is move on.
- If you want a bright spot from last night’s loss, let it be the return of Neil Ramirez, who pitched a perfect inning, striking out two. His fastball velocity was only around 93mph, which is down a couple MPH from where he was last year. That doesn’t mean he’s down permanently, of course, as he’s almost in a Spring Training build-up mode, and relievers often see their velocity build over the course of their first month or so of the season (also: he might also need to feel a couple healthy performances before he’s really ready to let it all go). I do find it interesting that of his 12 pitches, none was a slider, which was his wipeout pitch last year. Could just be a product of the counts and the batters, but his slider usage did decline as the season went on last year. Ultimately, you can’t really divine much information from one appearance. It’s good to see him back, and hopefully he returns to the guy he was last year in short order. Even if the offense is the primary issue right now, soon enough, it’ll ebb back to pitching.
- Speaking of the offense, it’s the return of the old bugaboo: no hits when they matter most. The Cubs have just 4(!) hits in their last 43 at bats with runners in scoring position. That’s almost impossible to do if you tried. Maybe, then, you can see that as a good thing? It’s not like the Cubs are striking out every time, either. Sometimes, the ball is going to fall in, and the Cubs are going to get some runs that way. They’ll also start hitting homers again eventually.
- Joe Maddon discusses the offense here at Cubs.com, and it’s what you’d expect him to say: the youth and inexperience are showing, and this kind of stretch was always going to happen. The off-day is going to suck for fans – hard – but Maddon says his players really need it (ESPN).
- Is it a solace or a frustration that the Cubs are now in the midst of their longest losing streak of the year – five games – but at least it came against two of the best teams in baseball?
- Pedro Strop is a classy dude, and received Bob Costas yesterday, accepting his apology (CSN).
- Although he’s still on the roster and Tsuyoshi Wada is now on the DL, Joe Maddon isn’t quite yet committing to Donn Roach getting another start (ESPN). I don’t want to create imaginary rumors by saying the Cubs are holding out the possibility that the guy taking the turn on Saturday isn’t yet on the team, but I suppose that’s technically possible. It’s also possible that the Cubs could go with a different internal option, and simply didn’t need to make a roster decision on Roach yet. As we saw, Roach is what he is: an extreme groundball guy who won’t miss bats. Sometimes, that’ll be a decent outing because the ball was at guys and other times great plays were made. Sometimes, it’ll be a rough outing, because balls find holes, others get squared up, and maybe there’ an ill-timed walk or two.
- If you missed anything this weekend – besides the losses – you can catch up here. Luke’s also got your catch-up on the minor league action here.