Cubs' season quickly headed for a deep freeze

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs' Nico Hoerner hits an RBI double scoring Ian Happ during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Chicago.

    Chicago Cubs' Nico Hoerner hits an RBI double scoring Ian Happ during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in Chicago. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 5/3/2022 10:23 PM

It was cold enough at Wrigley Field on Tuesday to feel like a playoff atmosphere, but the Cubs haven't done much to shake the rebuilding tag this season, let alone feel like they're any sort of postseason contender.

After dropping a 3-1 decision in the first game of the cross-town rivalry, the Cubs have now gone 3-10 over their last 13 contests. There have been games when they've been beaten soundly, like the first two in Milwaukee last weekend. But many more have been a case of the Cubs staying relatively competitive, except for a couple of bad plays.

 

On Tuesday, it was Patrick Wisdom's throwing error in the second inning which led to 2 unearned runs, ultimately the difference in the game. It wasn't an egregious error: He backed up to field a ground ball by Jose Abreu and threw it wide to first base. But a double and two RBI bunts turned it into a decisive inning.

"That was one of the toughest games I think I ever played in, just the constant rain, wet ball, throwing it," second baseman Nick Madrigal said. "Even hitting there's rain in your face. It definitely wasn't easy but I felt comfortable on defense. It is frustrating, we just couldn't break through there at the end. Overall it was a tough game."

Madrigal, who started his career with the White Sox, had some advice for dealing with wet conditions.

"I went to school in Oregon and we always played with a wet ball," he said. "One of the things is you can't overthrow the ball because it will slip out of your hand. I've always said you can't throw a wet ball hard, so I kind of had that in the back of my mind."

At the plate, the Cubs matched the White Sox in baserunners, but stranded seven. The Cubs' highlights in the early part of the game were Alfonso Rivas coaxing a walk to cap a 14-pitch at-bat, and the Cubs turning a double play after Keegan Thompson plunked Josh Harrison and Tim Anderson on the first two pitches of the fifth inning. They needed to follow up with some bigger plays.

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Cubs batters collected 4 hits and 2 walks against White Sox starter Michael Kopech. But they didn't get on the board until he left the mound and a 2-out double down the third-base line by Nico Hoerner scored Ian Happ. It also left the tying runs in scoring position, but Jose Ruiz struck out Yan Gomes to end the inning.

Scott Effross made his first major-league start, taking over for scheduled pitcher Drew Smyly, who went on the bereavement list earlier in the day.

Effross rolled through the first inning, but ran into trouble when the second inning began with the error by Wisdom. One out later, Adam Engel doubled to left-center field and Effross departed after Jake Burger followed with an RBI bunt single.

Thompson had already been warming, which suggested Effross wasn't going more than 2 innings anyway. Thompson gave up an opposite field home run to Anderson in the third for the Sox' lone earned run.

"(The weather) wasn't too bad, once you got moving around," Effross said. "Keegan had a little bit of trouble once the rain started accumulating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Right when I got to the ballpark, Rossy told me (about starting). He told me go as long as you can. It's a cool opportunity to get to be able to say I started at Wrigley Field."

Rivas hit in the leadoff spot and didn't get a hit, but saw plenty of pitches, which was Ross' goal.

"I just put him at the top of the order, he's swinging the bat really well right now," Ross said. "I think he controls the strike zone really well. He makes guys come in the zone as good as anybody for us right now. Putting him at the top just seems like a nice, calm at-bat."

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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