In a game that looked like a sure loss on paper, the Cubs were given a chance to compete when Jacob deGrom was pulled after just three innings. Fill-in starter Robert Stock had done his best to that point in a tough situation, allowing three runs over his three innings. It was not great and he didn’t look all that ready, to be honest, but it was suddenly a 3-1 game after an Anthony Rizzo homer in the top of the 4th. That’s a winnable game.
And then suddenly it wasn’t really all that winnable again, and that conversion felt unnecessarily self-inflicted.
Why on earth Stock was sent back out for the 4th inning – when he was already approaching 60 pitches, when the game had become competitive again, and when he was not pitching well in the first place – is a mystery to me. And then when he was throwing 92-94 mph at times (this is a 98-100 mph guy) with no control, and was allowed to keep facing batters until they were loaded with no outs? There wasn’t even anyone getting warm in the bullpen at that point! Stock went over 70 pitches, walked Francisco Lindor on four wild ones, forced in a run, and was STILL OUT THERE FACING THE NEXT BATTER (and allow another run to score). I cannot describe to you how inexcusable it felt as the inning went on. I’m seriously without words in the moment – reasonable ones anyway – and I’ll need a David Ross explanation. Not that I can think of a passable explanation for Stock facing more than one batter in the 4th when he looked like he did (and that’s me being generous and saying it was excusable to send him out in the first place for the inning).
To be sure, the bullpen was probably thin. And I bet that’s what Ross will say. But the Cubs specifically called up Cory Abbott today as back-fill. Three from Stock and three from Abbott, and see if maybe you’re still in the game. Forcing Stock to go four not only hung him out to dry and risked injury, it made the game a whole lot less winnable – and that’s with the Cubs getting VERY LUCKY to give up only two that inning!
Even if the Cubs didn’t wind up scoring again, that wouldn’t have been unknowable when the game was just 3-1. The fact that the Cubs *did* wind up reaching three runs on the night just made it all the more frustrating. Maybe they would’ve had a shot, maybe they wouldn’t. But they never really gave themselves a fighting chance.
… more offensive struggles didn’t help, obviously. I don’t want to make it like that 4th inning set of decisions was the whole game, because it wasn’t. There were also issues on offense, even against the Mets’ bullpen (and even considering the soft lineup).