Too many misses for Cubs in 3-2 loss to Mets
The signature highlight of this game will be Jake Marisnick, the Cubs' potential tying run in the ninth inning, being thrown out at the plate after some questionable judgment by third base coach Willie Harris.
But plenty of things went wrong for the Cubs in this 3-2 loss to the New York Mets, from Kris Bryant leaving early after getting hit by a pitch to Cubs batter striking out 15 times. The play at the plate going wrong just happened at an important time.
"I always err on the side of aggressiveness," Cubs manager David Ross said. "I thought that was a really nice relay by (Mets second baseman Luis) Guillorme, almost a blind turn and throw to get our fastest baserunner. Trying to make something happen late, I don't have a problem with that at all. Just a nice job by them."
Trailing by a run in the ninth, Willson Contreras singled with one out, ending a streak of 16 straight Cubs hitters retired, and Marisnick went in to pinch-run.
While Mets pitcher Seth Lugo threw over to first about a half-dozen times, Marisnick never attempted to steal and hitter Eric Sogard eventually drilled a line drive to right-center field. The Cubs could have had first and third with one out, but Harris decided to send Marisnick and he was out by a wide margin at the plate.
It looked bad the way it turned out, but had the throw been slightly off-target or the ball juggled, Marisnick would have made it. Jason Heyward then walked before Sergio Alcantara ended the game with a swinging strikeout.
"Mistakes are kind of hindsight. If he's safe, you're not going to say it's a mistake," Ross said. "Willie is an aggressive baserunning coach and that's kind of where I fall. We've talked about it. I thought that was a good send."
The Cubs scored both their runs in the third inning on a 2-run homer by Javy Baez. They got the first two runners on in the top of the first inning after Bryant was hit, but Anthony Rizzo and Baez both struck out against Mets starter Taijuan Walker and the Cubs came up empty.
In his second start of the season. Alec Mills did a decent job, but gave up a couple of soft hits in the bottom of the third, allowing the Mets to tie the score. Cubs pitchers also gave up a couple of costly walks, while Mets pitchers walked just one and that was Heyward in the ninth.
Ross did not have a detailed status report on Bryant after the game.
"The trainers were checking him out when he came in and said he couldn't really grip the bat," Ross said. "So we're going to err on the side of caution, get some tests done, make sure he's OK."
MLB officially released its guidelines Tuesday for cracking down on pitchers using illegal substances to improve their grip on the ball. Ross and Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy shared some thoughts before the game.
"I think (MLB is) doing the right thing by going back to square one," Ross said. "I think they will adjust if they see a big problem of trying to figure out an equal playing field for everybody. They are doing what's best for the game.
"Guys are going to have to learn to pitch to the corners and move the baseball around. The art of pitching, which I grew up on, I think is important."
Added Hottovy, "It's just a midseason change is going to be tough. There's going to be repercussions or things that happen because of this happening midseason. If you make the call in the offseason, make it before the season, guys have time to work on it. I'm just more concerned about the injuries."