Astros 3 @ Cubs 0
What was so embarrassing? You mean besides the entire season? Oh, from Tuesday night only? Fine, I’ll pick just one thing. This play. That’s the encapsulation of the season right there. The Cubs surrender a run but have the batter dead to rights between 1st and 2nd. I’m sure this is an insult to most of VFTB’s readers, but baseball fundamentals, nay the childlike understanding required for a game of ‘pickle’ demands that you CHASE the runner hard back to the bag (preferably the one they came from). It’s not hard, you just have to run fast, directly at the runner, and ready to throw the ball. It requires only a modicum of athletic prowess and zero baseball specific skill (unless a 15 foot toss is considered a baseball skill). What does All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro do? Casually jog towards the runner half-heartedly. His HR trot is more deliberate. Darwin Barney, he of the defensive renown, makes an equally stupid if not as obvious error. On the other side of the run-down, Barney needs to hold his ground virtually until ball is in his glove. If he starts closing the distance between him and the runner, he increases the possibility that the throw won’t be in time, and/or that the runner will have an easier time sliding past him. Which is exactly what happened. Castro takes his sweet time unloading the ball without driving the runner back to Barney; Barney gets a full head of steam essentially permitting the runner to sidestep at the moment he receives the ball and tries to swipe a tag all in one motion. It was an utter failure on all points. Ideally, Castro is the one running hard at the runner (not Barney), the runner is being forced to sprint at Barney (not vice versa), and the ball is delivered at the moment when it’s too late for the runner to reverse course with Barney merely needing to hold his ground and make the tag (the opposite of that happened, the runner merely needed take a step back to avoid the tag).
This final series against the Astros (unless the Cubs do something unprecedented tomorrow – like pitch a perfect game while striking out all 27) will be remembered, at least by me, as an unmitigated disaster. Just appalling that after such a bad season, we get a freebie against the one team against whom we’d had decent success and in two straight games we can’t score a run. ONE RUN. ONE FREAKIN’ RUN. The Astros team ERA is 4.58 – they have 106 losses. 106! I’m not even talking about whether we should be winning these games, I’m merely talking about scoring a single solitary run.
The season ends tomorrow by the way.