I decided not long ago to do this Cubs Kingdom thing full-time. Yes, this is what I do. I immerse myself in all things Cubs and try to find the best way to bring it to you, the best way to share the story. Today was a hard day. Not in a real-world job way (I’ve had those and they suck in a whole different way), but in a dedicate your life to the team you love and then get really bad news about a player you love, oh, and then lose a heartbreaker, way.
And the part that kills me the most is that I know that so many of you felt those same feelings today too. I know the entire Cubs organization also felt that way today.
The Cubs are strong. Things like this, as bad as they seem (and yes, I’m talking about losing Kyle Schwarber), have a way of making a good team come together and rise above.
It’s all fun and games when everyone makes preseason predictions that the Cubs will win the World Series. Everything is peachy keen in spring training. But the reality is, baseball presents a long hard road to get to the end. So while talking about it before the season is happy and care-free, getting to the end is the baseball equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. And climbing Mount Everest is an epic challenge. This is the beginning of the Cubs’ Mount Everest.
The Cubs poured everything they had left into the game tonight against the Diamondbacks (Box Score). Jason Hammel had a pretty good outing. He pitched six innings giving up one run on six hits and and three walks, including six strikeouts. None of the walks ended up hurting the Cubs, so that was fortunate.
Offensively, the Cubs were able to capitalize in the top of the third inning after Dbacks pitcher, Robbie Ray, walked four batters which brought in David Ross to score the Cubs first run. Next up, Ben Zobrist grounded into a fielder’s choice which allowed Jason Hammel to score the Cubs second run. Cubs up 2-0.
The Cubs had a couple chances to score again. First, in the top of the fourth inning with Russell and Soler on first and second base and only one out, but they couldn’t convert.
Next, in the top of the fifth inning Dexter Fowler led off with a double and Jason Heyward moved him to third with a single and no outs. Zobrist struck out. Next up was Rizzo and, instead of trying to explain it, I’ll show you a clip:
So that happened. It looked like Fowler was trying to signal to Heyward to take third base while he was caught in the run-down. I can only assume that Rizzo thought Heyward was going to advance to third and he wanted to take second base, got too far off first and ended up getting thrown out instead. Hmm. Tough one.
The Cubs were up 2-1 going into the bottom of the eighth inning. With Pedro Strop pitching, Jean Segura, who has been hitting out of his mind so far in this series, doubled with one out. Next up, Socrates Brito grounded out but advanced Segura to third. Paul Goldschmidt came up next and, with two outs, singled in the tying run.
You could see that one coming from a mile away and there are some questions about Joe Maddon’s decision to pitch to Goldschmidt. The questions are understandable. Joe made the decision to let Strop pitch to Goldschmidt and felt he could beat him with the breaking ball, but Strop threw a fast ball that was hit to left field and dropped in for a game-tying single. In an interview after the game you could sense that Joe was disappointed that Strop missed the pitch. In the end, Joe’s the manager and he made the decision. It didn’t work out.
In the bottom of the ninth the Dbacks got a one out single by Wellington Castillo and ended up scoring the game-winning run on a two out Yasmany Tomas single. It was a tough end to a tough day.
The Cubs line up against the Dbacks again tomorrow at 7:10 CDT. Kyle Hendricks makes his first start of the 2016 regular season for the Cubs.