The Cubs had a rough night in the opener of the National League Division Series. Nothing went their way early and the game got out of hand late. The Cubs lost for the first time since Sept. 26, snapping a nine-game winning streak.
Losing the first game of a short series is tough but if the Cubs are able to bounce back Saturday afternoon, win the game and tie the series, splitting the first two games in St. Louis would be considered a success with games three and four at Wrigley Field.
Reports from Game 1 of NLDS
The Cubs had a bad night offensively before the game got away in the bottom of the eighth inning. It is really hard to see how Pedro Strop can be used for the remainder of this series. Regardless of what he says, the numbers prove the Cardinals are in his head. Even at 2-0, there is a chance in the ninth inning.
There was a lot made during and after about Phil Cuzzi’s strike zone. The players stayed away from making too many comments. Joe Maddon dodged the question when asked after the game. Maddon said the expanded strike zone did not help especially with the way John Lackey pitched. Jayson Stark posted a break down on Cuzzi’s called strikes. And it is not favorable for the Cubs as would be expected.
- ESPN Chicago: Cubs’ offense stalls in Game 1 loss as wide strike zone hampers approach
- Comcast SportsNet: Cubs expect to bounce back after Game 1 loss to Cardinals
- Bruce Levine: John Lackey, Plate Umpire throw timid Cubs off their game
- MLB.com: Lester outdueled as Cubs fall in Game 1
- The Sun-Times: Cubs blanked in Division Series opener vs. Lackey, rival Cardinals
According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs did not ask Phil Cuzzi to check the baseball he went to the mound to inspect in the seventh inning. The Cubs insist no one from their dugout accused John Lackey of doctoring the baseball. Anthony Rizzo said Cuzzi checked on the ball because it was still in play after he fouled it off earlier in the at bat.
Patrick Mooney talked to Pedro Strop following Game 1. Strop said the Cardinals “aren’t in his head.” Joe Maddon addressed Strop’s problems with the Cardinals before the game and said he would not “run away from him” during the series.
Strop had a good year, with one blaring exception. He was horrible against the Cardinals. For the season, Strop allowed 24 runs, 22 earned, on 39 hits with 29 walks and 81 strikeouts (2.91 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) in 68 innings (76 games).
In 11 games against the Cardinals, Strop gave up nine runs on 10 hits with six walks and eight strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings (11.05 ERA, 2.18 WHIP). Far and away his worst numbers against any team he faced more than once. And in five games at Busch Stadium, Strop gave up seven runs on seven hits with five walks and one strikeout in two innings (31.50 ERA, 6.00 WHIP). The Cardinals hit two of the five homers he allowed during the regular season. Add in Friday, half of the six home runs off Strop have been hit by Cardinals this year.
The Cardinals might not be in his head. Maybe he’s tipping his pitches. But the bottom line is that in a short series every run matters and is magnified. Maddon has to stay away from Strop unless he has no other options.
According to Eric Fisher, the qualifying offer for MLB free agents this year will be $15.8 million, a $500,000 increase from last year ($15.3 million).
Teams have until five days after the conclusion of the World Series to make qualifying offers to their free agents. If the player does not except the qualifying offer and signs with another team his former club receives draft pick compensation.
The Cubs are expected to make a qualifying offer to Dexter Fowler.
As Eric Fisher pointed out, this is the fourth year of the current system and a qualifying offer was not accepted the first three years.
The qualifying offer was $13.3 million in 2012, increased to $14.1 million in 2013 and was $15.3 million last year.
According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are likely to pursue Jeff Samardzija this off-season. Samardzija is expected to receive a qualifying offer from the White Sox, turn it down and become a free agent. Due to the lack of mileage (innings) on his arm even with a bad season on the South Side (11-13, 4.96 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) it is believed Samardzija will sign a lucrative contract.
The Cubs are a possible destination for Samardzija as well. He has a very good relationship with Chris Bosio. It’s unknown if the Cubs would be willing to give up the first round pick and slot money to sign Samardzija.
Samardzija has ties to the Yankees front office and coaching staff from his days with the Cubs. Jim Hendry is currently a special assistant to Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman and Larry Rothschild is Joe Girardi’s pitching coach.
News and Notes
• Joe Maddon explained prior to Game 1 why he started Starlin Castro at second base … and that Jorge Soler is staying ready. Soler should not be sitting, and hopefully he will be in the lineup for Saturday’s game with the lefty Jaime Garcia on the hill.
• According to the Sun-Times, the focus and burden shifts to Kyle Hendricks in critical Game 2.
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Cubs granted free agency to J.C. Boscan
2003 – With six hits in six consecutive at bats, Kenny Lofton set an NLCS record and tied the ALCS mark.
2003 – Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the NLCS against the Marlins with an extra inning victory at Pro Player Stadium. The Cubs won 5-4 after Doug Glanville tripled in the top of the 11th and plated Kenny Lofton.
2001 – Cubs granted free agency to Joe Borowski
2001 – Cubs selected Jose Fernandez off waivers from the Angels
2000 – Cubs granted free agency to Brant Brown
1987 – Adrian Cardenas, born
1972 – Ramon Martinez, born
1961 – Houston Colt .45’s selected Dick Drott in the Rule 5 Draft from the Cubs
1961 – Mets selected Sammy Drake from the Cubs in the expansion draft
1961 – Mets selected Don Zimmer from the Cubs in the expansion draft
1960 – Cubs released Grady Hatton
1960 – Cubs released El Tappe
1950 – Cubs traded Hank Edwards and cash to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Chuck Connors and Dee Fondy
1947 – Roger Metzger, born
1945 – Cubs lost the seventh game of the World Series to the Tigers, 9-3, at Wrigley Field.
1908 – Cubs took game one of the World Series after scoring five runs in the ninth inning. Mordecai Brown was the winning pitcher in the 10-6 victory over the Tigers.
1907 – Cubs beat the Tigers 5-1 in game three of the World Series behind Ed Reulbach at West Side Grounds.
1906 – Cubs evened the series with the White Sox with a 7-1 win behind Ed Reulbach at South Side Grounds. Reulbach allowed only one hit, a seventh inning single, and the lone run the Sox scored was on an error and a wild pitch in the sixth inning. There was not another one-hitter thrown in the World Series until the Cubs’ Claude Passeau in 1945.