Crazy ninth inning ruins Wrigley party for Cubs
By any other name, the Cubs are still the Cubs.
Playing as the Chicago Federal in throwback 1914 uniforms, the Cubs looked like so many other Cubs teams during the past century.
Their fans probably wanted to throw back Wednesday's game just as they do with opposing home-run balls.
The script was a familiar one: The Cubs took a 5-2 lead into the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who played as the Federal League's Kansas City Packers.
Some bad bullpen work, an error and a crazy bounce all contributed to the D'Backs/Packers scoring 5 runs to beat the Cubs 7-5 and spoil the 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field.
"It seemed like the inning kept opening up, and we weren't able to put a stop to it," said Cubs manager Rick Renteria, whose modern-day team fell to 7-13. "We got to get over it because we got to play tomorrow again."
The long and the short of the ninth inning was this:
• Reliever Pedro Strop, the unofficial closer, didn't have command. He walked Chris Owings to start the ninth.
• The next batter, speedy ex-Cub Tony Campana, grounded the ball to shortstop Starlin Castro, who was moving toward second base. Trying to turn two, Castro booted the ball for an error. Pinch hitter Eric Chavez walked before Strop struck out Gerardo Parra.
• Martin Prado grounded the ball up the middle, and it hit the corner of the second-base bag and caromed into the outfield for a 2-run single.
• Still in it, Strop struck out Paul Goldschmidt. But in came lefty James Russell to face left-handed batter Migue Montero. Russell suffered a blown save when Montero singled on a line drive to right.
• In came reliever Justin Grimm, and to add injury to the insult, Aaron Hill tripled down the right-field line. Cubs right fielder Justin Ruggiano slid to catch the ball, but he couldn't get to it. On top of it, he injured his left hamstring and had to leave the game.
The disastrous inning ruined another good starting performance by Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who turned in his fifth straight quality start to open the season. Samardzija, didn't get the expected victory. His record held at 0-2 while his ERA is 1.53.
Go ahead and say how fitting the ninth-inning blowup was, especially the ball hitting the bag. Samardzija was having none of it.
"I didn't see it," he said, cutting off a question before it could go to a place Samardzija didn't want it to go.
As for the ninth-inning culprits, Strop owned up for the walks.
"With the first hitter, I didn't have my command," he said. "But then after that, I was getting my rhythm and my feeling of where to throw the ball. I was trying get my body warm and all that. I just don't want to make an excuse. I've got to be ready for that first hitter because in the last inning, you cannot be walking guys."
Castro said he rushed things on the possible double play.
"You try to be too quick on that play," he said. "That's what happened. It's kind of impossible to make a double play with the way Campana runs. The only thing I have to do there is make sure of one."