The shadows make for strange doings at Wrigley Field.
Saturday was another of those great 3:05 p.m. starts for the Cubs. They're great, that is, unless you're a right fielder battling the sun or a batter trying to pick up a ball out of the dark and light.
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Things were so strange that even the Cubs' Twitter account reported their 4-0 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays a half-inning before it became official.
The Cubs say the tweet did not emanate from Chicago, but from Major League Baseball Advanced Media in New York. The way things were going, though, the equivalent of "enough precincts reporting" made the tweet prescient, as that score held up. (The same Twitter account later expressed an apology for the premature concession.)
On the field, the Cubs did little with Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi and the Tampa Bay bullpen. Cubs batters struck out 15 times and did not walk once.
"He was smart," Cubs right fielder Justin Ruggiano said of Odorizzi. "He was using the wind and the field elements to his advantage. He was throwing the ball up in the zone, making us swing at it. If we did and put it in play, it was probably in the air."
A hefty wind blowing in kept everything that was hit in the air confined to the ballpark.
For Ruggiano, it was a tough day in right. In the fourth inning, he went back to the wall trying to catch Ben Zobrist's drive. The ball hit off Ruggiano's glove and was swallowed up by the vines for a ground-rule double. Cubs pitcher Edwin Jackson got one out before Evan Longoria doubled Zobrist home.
After a strikeout, Yunel Escobar singled into short right. Ruggiano came in and then stepped back to play the ball on a bounce. However, he could not make a play in time on Longoria, who scored.
Ruggiano answered for both plays, starting with the double.
"Probably should have caught it, but between the sun and the wind and the wall, I just kind of alligator-armed it a little bit," he said.
Of the single he said: "I pulled back on it and then after that point I didn't think I had a play. I looked up, and I definitely had a play and should have continued on with it home. Just a mental mistake."
The Rays scored twice in the fourth and twice in the sixth, with 1 of the runs in the sixth being unearned because of an error by rookie second baseman Javier Baez, who dropped a relay throw from third on a potential double-play ball. Jackson wound up pitching 6 innings and giving up 5 hits as he fell to 6-12 with a 5.61 ERA.
As for Baez, he struck out his first two times up, giving him 6 straight strikeouts going back to Friday. In the sixth, he battled for 10 pitches, hitting a double to left. He finished with a strikeout in the ninth.
In his first five major-league games, Baez is 6-for-23 (.261) with a double, 3 homers, 5 RBI, no walks and 10 strikeouts. As power hitter, he knows that strikeouts will be part of his game.
"I'm not going to change my approach because I strike out a lot," Baez said. "I've just got to be patient and get a pitch to hit."