Chicago Cubs: Despite win, Cubs suffer numerous losses Thursday

Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images /

Just hours after losing to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Chicago Cubs flew to Washington, D.C. for a make-up game against the Nationals. Despite a hard-fought win, the Cubs still suffered numerous losses.

The Chicago Cubs hopped on a plane from Chicago to Washington, D.C. late Wednesday night only a game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers for first place. It was September 12th, already 23 days since the Cubs’ last day without a scheduled game.

Cubs’ first baseman Anthony Rizzo was already ready to play. Dressed in full uniform (cleats too), Rizzo didn’t even bother to bring a change of clothes. He knew they’d be right back on a plane to Chicago in less than 24 hours for Friday’s match-up against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs were already unhappy that Major League Baseball had scheduled the game for Thursday as a dangerous hurricane headed straight for the East Coast, and the lack of days off certainly didn’t help the situation. According to Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney, the team asked MLB to consider rescheduling the game to the end of the season (if necessary) or push back Friday’s 2:20 CT scheduled start time.

Alas, the league decided to play the game on Thursday while granting the team’s wish for a later start time on Friday. Fortunately for the Cubs, they leave Washington with a win and a 1.5 game lead on the Brewers.

Despite the Cubs earning their 85th win in a 4-3 victory, however, they suffered numerous losses on Thursday. To make matters worse, a day off and sleep were far from the only losses endured in the ten-inning nail-biter.

No doubt the biggest loss came in the 10th inning.

With the bases loaded and only one out, manager Joe Maddon decided that closer Pedro Strop should bat for himself. It was only the fourth at-bat of his 10-year career. With utility man Tommy La Stella watching from the dugout and seven available relievers in the bullpen, Strop grounded to third baseman Anthony Rendon and came up limping upon reaching first base.

Maddon has received a tremendous amount of criticism for some of his decisions throughout the year, but it’s hard to criticize a guy who’s led the Cubs to three straight NLCS appearances and a World Series title.

This, however, is inexcusable.

Maddon certainly lost some trust with fans and perhaps with the front office with his decision. Whether or not his job security is affected by the results remains to be seen and up to the front office entirely.

Strop will have an MRI on Friday, but it’s already been confirmed that the Cubs will be without their most dominant reliever for at least a couple of weeks. In September. With the division rival Brewers hot on their heels.

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The loss of Strop could be catastrophic for the Cubs. The seasoned righty has only allowed one earned run since allowing two on August 4th. The Cubs are 17-2 in games that Strop has pitched in since the All-Star break.

It’s certainly unfortunate that the Cubs lost so much in situations that could have been avoided by smarter decisions by Major League Baseball and Joe Maddon. In an era of sports in which player safety and health are advertised as the highest priority by leagues, it certainly didn’t appear that way on Thursday.

Cubs fans can only hope that they are able to overcome Thursday’s setbacks and ride the momentum of a hard-fought win to another NL Central title. The Cubs have dealt with numerous injuries to key players throughout 2018 and yet still find themselves in first place and the magic number down to 15.

Thursday’s misfortune certainly wasn’t a death punch, but they’re issues that could have been avoided with smarter decision-making.

Deep breath, Cubs fans. After all, the Cubs certainly know a thing or two about 10th inning magic following a rain delay.