Here’s Al Yellon’s recap for yesterday’s game.
Cardinals 5, Cubs 4: Walks Will Hurt You, Every Time
The Cubs played well Sunday night, but hurt themselves with walks.
Interesting premise! The Cubs lost the game. They must have given up way more walks than normal. *checks box score: 4 walks allowed* Well, maybe they just didn’t take any walks, then. *checks box score: 6 walks taken* …oh.
Entertaining doesn’t always win you games, and it didn’t Sunday night, and the primary reason was walks.
If I had to sum up Cubs/Cardinals games in one word, I’m not sure “entertaining” is the one I use. This also goes against the premise previously stated. This game was exciting! You know why? Walks!
Jason Hammel issued a walk with two out and no one on base in consecutive innings, the second and third, and the Cardinals took advantage both times. They scored two runs in the second inning and another in the third, and you just can’t give that to a good team and expect to win.
Interesting theory. Allowing 3 runs to a good team means you can’t expect to win. We must have lost this game 3-1 or 3-2, or something. What DEFINITELY isn’t going to happen is that your very next paragraph is going to dispute this one.
Nevertheless, the Cubs climbed out of that hole with a nicely-done fourth inning of their own. Trailing 3-0, Ryan Kalish beat out an infield single and John Baker walked. Both advanced on a slow infield roller by Darwin Barney (who really looks completely lost at the plate) and scored on a single by Hammel, his first hit of the year. (No, this doesn’t change my mind about the DH. Cubs pitchers are now 4-for-57 this year with 29 strikeouts.)
Look, I get what Alvin was trying to do here. If you give a good team free runs, they usually end up biting you in the ass. That statement is true. However, you don’t say that right before your paragraph where they climb out of the hole.
On the game continued. The Cardinals appeared to catch a break in the seventh when an infield out was overturned on replay, but Carlos Villanueva, in relief of Hammel, induced Yadier Molina to hit into an inning-ending double play. The Cubs also got an out overturned on review (charged as an error to Matt Carpenter) in the sixth, but could not take advantage. Neither review took very long, both shorter than two minutes.
The Cubs tied the game in the seventh when Luis Valbuena tripled down the right-field line (and appeared to nearly run out of gas before chugging into third; it was just his second triple in 662 Cubs at-bats) and scored on a wild pitch.
On the game continued again, pressing toward three hours but never dragging. It’s one thing when you have a three-hour-plus game that goes on and on and on, never seeming to end; this one always had action and interesting strategy.
No problem with this.
Hector Rondon was summoned for the Cardinals’ ninth inning, his fourth straight game. I don’t have a problem with this, especially since one of those games (Saturday) was just eight pitches and another (Friday) was only 12.
Again, as Hammel did, Rondon got himself in trouble with walks. After getting Jhonny Peralta on a nice called strikeout, he walked Randal Grichuk. A single by Mark Ellis followed, and then Rondon struck out Peter Bourjos, one out away from going to the bottom of the ninth in a tie game.
This shows a pretty silly disregard for pitcher health. When a player is in a game, it isn’t just that they are throwing pitches at major league hitters. They are warming up (throwing pitches), than going max effort for however many pitches they throw. There is a fixed cost of using a player at all in a game, and then a marginal cost for the actual number of pitches he throws. When you say he only threw 8 and 12 pitches (also note how he spells “eight” and then types “12” EDIT: Apparently, this is correct! I am an idiot who should feel bad.), that isn’t relevant; what’s relevant is that he warmed up, threw a ball really really hard, and then iced down afterwards.
But the K of Bourjos had taken nine pitches, and Rondon was now at 18. Would you have left him in to face Matt Carpenter, or brought in Wesley Wright, who was ready?
Rick(y) stuck with Rondon, who walked Carpenter to load the bases.
Walks. They will hurt you, every time.
Bullshit. You know how this is bullshit? THE CUBS WALKED 6 TIMES. This is 2 times more than the Cardinals. You know how this is even more bullshit? In this very game, the very game that Alvin is recapping, the Cubs walked the bases loaded. Three walks. In a row. All with 1 out. They scored 0 runs. 0!
Walks. They will hurt you, except the times that they don’t hurt you.
You know what the best part about this is? Al doesn’t even mention the fact that the Cubs out-walked the Cardinals, or that those walks were all for nothing – and why would he? It is only the exact contradiction to his stupid little narrative.
Molina was up next. This could have been a real coming-of-age at-bat for Rondon, facing one of the top hitters in the National League. Molina fouled off four of the first five pitches, then singled in two runs, deflating what was left of Cubs fans in a smallish crowd. (Despite the cold and the Sunday night start time, there were plenty of Cardinals fans in attendance; you could hear them loudly in the early innings when St. Louis took that 3-0 lead.)
Rondon made his pitch. Molina poked it in for a single anyway. That’s baseball.
BABIP. It will hurt you, 30% of the time.
Give the Cubs credit; they didn’t roll over easily, even after the first two men were out in the bottom of the ninth. Just as the Cubs had for the Cardinals early in the game, St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal issued a two-out walk, this one to Emilio Bonifacio. Valbuena doubled him in to make it 5-4, and up comes Anthony Rizzo, off to a good start and perhaps beginning to establish himself as an elite player in this league.
It didn’t happen for him Sunday night. Rizzo grounded to first base and the Cubs had a tough loss, 5-4 to the Cardinals. Go figure, right? The Cubs win the two games they figured to lose in this series, and lose the one game most of us thought they had a good chance of winning.
No problems here, except of course that Rosenthal walked a batter (who even scored!) and they still won the game.
The Cubs play 162 games a year. For a blogger like Brett or Al, that means 162 narratives. Understandably, the well gets dried from time to time. Some games just aren’t that interesting! It’s excusable, with that in mind, to have some game recaps that are less-than-stellar (and Brett does extended box-scores, so he isn’t exactly writing about the nitty-gritty of each individual game).
However, to have a narrative that walks will kill you every time, in a game in which the losing team walked more often than the winning one, in which the losing team walked the bases loaded and scored 0 runs, is just unconscionable. Al doesn’t try to address this fact; in reality, he just doesn’t mention it. In a game ostensibly about walks and their impact, he doesn’t bring up the event in the game with the most walks! That is like saying interceptions kill you every time when the Bears throw 2 pick-sixes, but intercept the ball 4 times themselves.
Al Yellon’s writing. It will hurt you, every time.