Even the the mightiest teams can lose. Last night’s 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals was an especially tough one to take. What started out as a classic pitcher’s duel, ended with John Lackey being yanked in the 7th inning with tightness. I could feel Joe Maddon’s stomach churning during that walk to the mound to tell Lackey he wasn’t going to play anymore.
“His shoulder stiffened up and that was it,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “He tried to talk me out of it, and I was not going to be talked out of it. I’m sure he’ll tell you he’s going to pitch his next start. That’s possible. I just don’t know anything yet.”
He’s worn the red cap and knows what these series are like. That was tough on him to come out of the game, but he did.
This is where the problems occurred. Justin Grimm took over and struck the batter out but when usually hard throwing and reliable Hector Rondon took over, the time off due to injury wasn’t kind to him.
“Today, I came in with the ball up and I didn’t have my best command and I didn’t mix in my breaking balls,” Rondon said. “Today, they got me.”
If there was the weakness in the tough Cub exterior, then it has to be the bullpen. It’s great that the Cubs have that cushion to fall back on. Their lead is 12 games ahead of St. Louis and they’ve still got some breathing room over the Nationals but nobody said this would be easy. It would be better if the Cubs duked it out right until the end and went to the Big Series clawing their way to the top.
Of course loading the bases with nobody out and not capitalizing like they did in the seventh is not a good situation. I’m sure those Mercedes and Ferraris parked outside had their Key Fobs pressing auto start with a big tanned Econoline following them in the rearview after the game.
“Offensively, we do need to do better in those particular moments and get those add-on runs on later in the game,” Maddon said. “That was a big moment, bases loaded nobody out, and they got out of it.”
The Cubs wanted to sweep the Cardinals. It wouldn’t have mattered if the Cubs only won 38 games and the Cardinals 75 or vice versa. The Cubs let these two games slip from their paws and perhaps the Cardinals showed them up but one thing is certain; the Nationals will put the pin in the Cubs fairy tale year balloon come October.
“You always take that split, but when you get in position to grab more than that, that’s the part you don’t necessarily like,” Maddon said. “But we played well. Every time we play well, even if we lose, I’m OK.”
They did play well. Kris Bryant‘s triple, Anthony Rizzo‘s home run and Willson Contreras‘ hustle were all out on display, but the irony is that this season the Cubs pitching is what’s keeping them in the games and it’s exactly the pitching that could end it for them.
Does anyone else think Dexter Fowler should be considered for MVP?