For those of you who want to be annoyed about a loss in which the Cubs scored just one run, I’d advise maybe just scrolling to the EBS below, and moving on. I totally get it. Losses like this suck in their own special way. Nothing that follows means the loss didn’t suck.
OK. So, that said …
I’m not trying to be Positivity Guy about a loss, but I am just telling you what I saw. The Cubs put together a lot of great at bats in this one, really making Zac Gallen and the Diamondbacks bullpen work. So many 5+ pitch at bats. They gave themselves opportunities, too, and just couldn’t get that big hit. Sometimes that happens, and sometimes you can still appreciate the process (even if, in those moments, you’re frustrated with the outcome).
Similarly, Marcus Stroman was mostly great (by mostly, I mean four out of five innings), with his first three innings being the three most dominant innings I have personally seen from him (perfect, five strikeouts in nine batters). But then Stroman threw more pitches in the 4th inning than he threw in the first three innings combined, as he was leaving pitches belt high and getting hit. Even still, there was some bad luck baked into the sequencing and hit placement, and then he managed to come back out and pitch a clean fifth. That would’ve been a reasonably good start in any circumstance, but coming off an 18-day layoff? It was really encouraging. Gave me confidence that his last time out against the Brewers wasn’t a fluke. He’s getting himself right.
And, they are making me a broken record: the bullpen was great again. The confidence level in virtually every single guy who comes into the game is sky high right now. That’s part of the reason the Cubs are losing all these close games – the bullpen is keeping them close. Scott Effross is just so freaking good.
Two starts into his big league career and Christopher Morel has already seen time at third base, second base, and center field. It’s what he does, and there’s real value there as a contributor even if he maxes out at “only” a big league average bat. He probably won’t get there this year when all is said and done, but it’s a bright spot for the future.
Ultimately, the Cubs lose because they couldn’t come through with the big knock, *AND* they didn’t slug (the Diamondbacks did both, thus they won despite the Cubs getting more baserunners, striking out more DBacks hitters, etc.). You don’t have to hit homers to win games, but obviously this is the type of game where one big fly at the right moment means the Cubs win the game. Didn’t happen.
But I still just kinda felt like focusing on the good stuff tonight.