It’s safe to say that this is one of the more frustrating losses for the Cardinals this year. You can point to a number of things, Jack Flaherty’s third inning collapse, missed opportunities, bad umpiring, and poor decision making. I’ll discuss what I think was the culprit for today’s loss later on in the story.
The Cards scored first on an RBI groundout by Andrew Knizner, but the Cubs quickly erased the deficit and took a 4-1 lead. Home runs by Miles Mastrobuoni and Cody Bellinger and double by Christopher Morel bit the Cardinals in the third.
Flaherty wasn’t great, but aside from that third inning, he wasn’t bad and still managed to give the Cardinals six innings. I was impressed with the way he bounced back after that inning. He even struck out six batters and had just one walk
Nolan Arenado had a two-run single in the seventh to make it a 4-3 game, but disaster struck in the eighth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, strikes were called on Alec Burleson that were clearly balls, and had they been called correctly, the game would have been tied.
Ultimately, the Cardinals rally fell short in the ninth and they saw their winning streak come to an end. Let’s get into some takeaways from today’s excruciating loss at Wrigley.
The umpire’s strike calls are ultimately what cost the Cardinals the game. You have to give Burleson credit for grinding out that at-bat. He just got screwed by the umpires, and I feel sorry for him. But I’m more mad about Oli choosing to use Burleson there when Nolan Gorman had been standing in the on-deck circle.
Gorman’s your hottest hitter right now, and I was stoked when Brendan Donovan walked, knowing that the bases were loaded for Gorman. My heart sank when he was pulled back. I must stress that this is not a knock on Burly, I just thought Gorman was your best bet there.
Burleson ultimately grounded into an inning ending double play before letting out his frustration towards home plate umpire and St. Louis native Ron Kulpa. But I really don’t understand not using Gorman there. If they used him instead, then the Cardinals could’ve put Burly in to pinch run when Willson Contreras got hit by a pitch, which we’ll get to.
But with Gorman being your hottest hitter, it makes more sense to go with your gut as opposed to following analytics and spreadsheets.
Ultimately, he stayed in the game because the Cardinals had completely burned their bench, but I think every Cards fan was holding their breaths when a pitch from Adbert Alzolay hit Contreras right on the hand.
We can only hope that it isn’t too serious, but Contreras was in some serious pain and it took a minute for him to ease back into things. I imagine we’ll know more later on. With the way he’s been hitting, losing Contreras would be a major blow for the Cards.
Miles Mikolas gets the ball tomorrow for Game 3. Hopefully the Cards can bounce back and get ahead in the series again.