Today’s win over the Cardinals was huge for the Cubs for so many reasons. It is a two-game swing in the standings over the Cardinals and ensures they can leave Chicago no better than 2.0 games behind the Cubs. It continued the offensive momentum the Cubs built up in the Mets series. It keeps the pressure on the Cardinals and the Brewers to keep winning. It leaves them a game away from winning the series, and potentially burying the Cardinals in the process.
Today’s win was also a huge one because of how it played out. The Cubs wound up stomping the Cardinals despite giving up the lead in a wild fifth inning that saw John Lackey and Willson Contreras tossed after vociferously arguing a (horribly missed) call by home plate umpire Jordan Baker.
Some of the quotes and thoughts about the madness from after the game …
- As you might expect, Lackey had no regrets about his double outburst (ESPN): “He missed the pitch …. It was a pretty big spot right there. It cost me a big league win. Those don’t grow on trees.” I don’t much care about the pitcher win aspect, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t have had a similar outburst in that moment given how things played out. I wish Lackey could have kept himself composed, but you’re daft if you couldn’t see that explosion coming.
- Speaking of which, Joe Maddon was candid after the game when asked about wanting Lackey not to react like that after a bad call (CSN): “Impossible. I could say I’d like to see that, but why would I even think that? That’s the definition of insanity. Why would I think he’s gonna change in that particular moment? So God bless him. It’s who Johnny is. I never want him to change. He’s not gonna change, so why even expect that?”
- Maddon also appreciated the way the moment brought the team together – that does happen sometimes – so at least there’s that.
- To the extent you’re wondering, Brooks PITCHf/x had the infamous “ball” pretty much right down the pipe.
- So how did the ump miss the call so badly? It did look like Contreras didn’t get the pitch he was expecting – Maddon said after the game he was crossed up – and had to jab for it a little bit. It definitely didn’t look like a ball, though, and Carlos Martinez marched off, knowing he’d struck out. But, well, he hadn’t.
- For his part, Contreras got caught up in the moment, as he does sometimes, and lost his cool. He was ready to apologize immediately (ESPN): “I apologize to everybody, to the fans, to MLB, to the umpire. I’m sure if I see Jordan [Baker] tomorrow I will apologize to him.” That’s good, and may help Contreras avoid a suspension. You can see more deferential comments from Contreras here at Cubs.com.
- I watched Maddon’s post-game press conference, and with respect to Contreras, he was mostly focused on pointing out that there was no intent in throwing the mask in a way to hit the umpire. Whenever something like that happens, and there’s contact with the umpire, discipline almost always follows. But if you watch the video, Contreras is turned away from the ump, spikes the mask straight down, and it happens to take a football bounce straight right, and that’s how it hit the ump. Should Contreras really be held accountable for physics!?!?
- Seriously, though, the ejection for Contreras was ridiculous. The ump blew the call, had to know by then that he blew the call, and had already tossed Lackey. Let Contreras jaw at you for a while. You earned it.