Cubs can’t blame one call for Game 1 loss

Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images /

The Cubs lost Game 1 of the NLCS 5-2 to the Dodgers Saturday night. A controversial call is getting the spotlight but there are two reasons the Cubs are down 0-1 in the NLCS.

Let me come out and say it right away. The correct call was made. Wilson Contreras blocked the plate. As unpopular as that may be, the rule was called as it was written.

Rule 7.13 states:

"“Unless the catcher is in possession of the ball, the catcher cannot block the pathway of the runner as he is attempting to score. If, in the judgment of the Umpire, the catcher, without possession of the ball, blocks the pathway of the runner, the Umpire shall call or signal the runner safe.”"

Pretty cut and dry if you ask me. Contreras blocked Charlie Culberson’s route to the plate when he swung out his leg before having the ball.

Joe Maddon, was ejected for arguing the overturned call, but that’s not the reason the Cubs lost.

Look no further than the bullpen and lack of offense. That’s it. Plain and simple.

Bullpen Woes

I will be first person to call out Joe Maddon’s use of his bullpen. In fact, I did it in the NLDS clinching game when he brought in Wade Davis for a seven out save. Flashbacks to the use of Aroldis Chapman in the World Series were burring in my mind and clouded my judgement.

Unfortunately, Maddon has no other play at the moment.  Jose Quintana pitched a solid game going five innings only allowing two runs before being pulled.

In three innings of work the bullpen allowed six hits, three earned runs and two home runs. The best reliever for the Cubs was John Lackey who went 1.2 innings allowing 1 hit and no runs. Overall in the postseason, the bullpen is responsible for 15 runs in six postseason games.

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The bats are asleep

Likewise, the offense needs to produce. Albert Almora  drove in the only Cubs runs Saturday. Through 6 games the Cubs scored 19 runs on 31 hits. Their combined .172 average is second worst in the postseason just behind Cleveland (.171). Similarly, they rank second to last in OBP (.266) again just ahead of the Indians (.263).

Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have to step up. Bryant has five hits with a .208 average and a .240 OBP. Rizzo meanwhile has just 4 hits and a .174 average and the same .240 OBP. While the rest of the roster is also struggling offensively, the two leaders of the team need to set the example if the Cubs have any shot in winning this series against the Dodgers.

Next: Chicago Cubs vs Los Angeles Dodgers: NLCS Preview

While it’s easy to say, one play did not define this game. Take that play away and the Cubs most likely still lose the game. The bats and bullpen need to show up in Game 2.