It didn’t quite have the feel of a win as the game progressed. But the Marlins are so young and lousy that the Cubs held on to a precarious 4-3 lead into the top of the 9th. Then things got weird. Pedro Strop – statistically and memorably one of the more reliable relief pitchers in Cubs history – loaded the bases on a pair of walks and a single to Neil Walker. Stropy then walked in the winning run. His slider wasn’t sliding on a cold night at the Friendly Confines. It happens to the best of ’em not named Mariano. Rookie Jake Ryan came in and coaxed a run-scoring groundout to David Bote at 2nd for the 1st out. Then came the oddest play. A hopper back to Jake, who had Walker pinned between 3rd and home. But Ryan chose to get the out at first and let Walker score. Ryan explained he just “froze.” It ended up being a double play with Rizzo firing across the diamond to get the guy trying to advance to 3rd. But now Miami had a 2-run lead. Kris Bryant launched a solo shot with one out in the bottom of the 9th, cutting the lead to 1. Rizzo singled but Sergio Romo K’d Javy and Willson (the latter a victim of terrible umpiring) and that was that.
Cubs left lots of guys on base throughout the game – so you sort of sensed doom. It wasn’t all bad – Rizzo hammered another homerun – the 200th of his career. Carl Edwards Jr. returned from the minors to throw a perfect 7th. KB’s power surge continued in the 9th. But it was a bummer coming off that sweep of St. Louis – and it cost the Cubs 1st place. After 24 hrs of holding the top spot in the Central, they relinquished it to the Cardinals.
A game to shake off and forget. Just don’t want to make losing to bad teams like Miami a habit. 7:05 again tonight. Let’s get one.