A little raggedy, Chicago Cubs split series with Padres
Chicago Cubs frustrations boiled over at the end of Sunday's messy 10-6 loss to the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field.
The frustration was directed from first baseman Anthony Rizzo to home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez, who called Rizzo out on a wide pitch to end the game.
Fair enough, but the Cubs have created enough frustrating things of their own making to address before they even get to the umpires.
In fact, manager Joe Maddon said he and the coaches were going to get together soon to talk about "process and fundamentals," with the team's play being raggedy around the edges of late.
As for Rizzo, he entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning and dunked an RBI single into left field to tie the game at 5-5. But the Padres scored a run in the eighth and 4 in the ninth.
Ben Zobrist hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the ninth, and Rizzo was up with a man on third and two outs when he was rung up by Hernandez.
Rizzo followed Hernandez down the first-base line to argue the call, and he was joined by Maddon.
"I think it's well documented that I talk to a lot of these umpires all the time," Rizzo said. "I have the utmost respect for every single one of them. I kind of feel like I know them on a little personal basis. It's long games, long season, talk to them a lot. I feel like I have a great working relationship with pretty much the whole league.
"But with that being said, that call is unacceptable. Angel told me to look at it. I looked at it. And he was wrong, and I would like for him to confirm that because it can't happen. It can't happen in the major leagues at Wrigley Field, any field.
"Things like that can't happen, and it happened all game. Nothing happens, and I have to answer questions to you guys: 'Why can't you hit? Why are you striking out? Why can't you hit in the clutch in the ninth inning?' All these questions. It was literally ball four."
Maddon weighed in.
"You've got to play it straight right to the very end, and I'm not accusing anybody of not," he said. "But it's egregiously a bad call. We all see that. I think that's definitely why Anthony wanted to say something because he was trying to point out how bad the call was."
The Cubs split four games against the last-place team in the National League West, and didn't always look good doing it, from pitching to fielding to baserunning.
Jon Lester, Sunday's starting pitcher, pitched 5 innings, giving up 8 hits and 5 runs as his ERA went from 3.22 to 3.44. The Padres went ahead 4-0 by the second inning and 5-1 by the fourth. Over his last 8 starts, Lester has a 6.42 ERA.
"Not really up to anybody's expectations," he said. "I felt like I had really good stuff today. Once again, no swing-and-miss stuff. Figure it out. Little rut right now. Keep grinding."
There were two key basrunning plays that hurt the Cubs.
Javier Baez was out trying to steal third base to end the fifth, after the Cubs had scored a pair of runs to come within 5-3. Baez originally was called safe, but the call was overturned on replay.
In the sixth, David Bote was picked off second base by Padres catcher Austin Hedges to end the inning when the Cubs had runners on first and second.
"I didn't like the pickoff," Maddon said. "That was a big part of today's game. There's a couple plays that we haven't made that are kind of routine stuff, I thought, that we normally do make. There's no questioning the fight. The esprit de corps, the fight, wonderful, good.
"But I'm kind of a fundamentalist, and I just want to make sure that we are staying aware of that because sometimes when you have trouble at the plate, you can lose your focus in other parts of the game.
"I just want to make sure we maintain our defensive focus and the focus in the other areas, speaking about Javy possibly becoming an MVP, talking about the complete game. I want our guys to stay involved in the complete game, and if you're not hitting to not lose sight of that."
Scouting report Cubs vs. Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium
NBC Sports Chicago Plus Monday; NBC Sports Chicago Tuesday; WGN Wednesday
Cole Hamels (1-0 with Cubs) vs. Jakob Junis (6-11) Monday; Mike Montgomery (3-4) vs. Brad Keller (4-4) Tuesday; Jose Quintana (10-7) vs. Heath Fillmyer (0-1) Wednesday. All games 7:15 p.m.
At a glance:
The Royals are dead last in the American League Central. They rank last in runs scored in the AL, and their team ERA of 5.35 also is last. Whit Merrifield entered Sunday with a line of .301/.370/.424 with 6 home runs and 35 RBI. Salvador Perez had 19 homers and 55 RBI. Hamels, who pitched in the AL with Texas before his trade to the Cubs, is 4-2 with a 3.00 ERA in 7 career starts against the Royals. Before coming to the Cubs, he was 5-9 with a 4.72 ERA for the Rangers this season. The Cubs are 8-4 against AL clubs this season.
Washington Nationals at Wrigley Field, Friday-Sunday
-- Bruce Miles