Rubby Slips, War Bear Trips, Cubs Clip D-Backs

“There’s no place like home,” the Diamondbacks starter repeated three times, clicking the heels of his cleats as his team spotted him a run for each click.

Rubby (sounds like what Dorothy’s slippers were made of) De La Rosa looked good out of the gate, though the Cubs got to him with two runs in both the 2nd and 3rd innings. The D-backs, however, managed to outpace them…for a while.

John Lackey got off to a pretty inauspicious start, giving up a home run to Jean Segura on his first pitch as a Cub. He managed to strike out Nick Ahmed but then walked Paul Goldschmidt and gave up a double to David Peralta to put two men in scoring position with one out. Lackey got Welington Castillo to pop out before a Jake Lamb bouncer found enough space up the middle to plate two.

The Cubs got a pair back in the top of the 2nd when Addison Russell singled to score Anthony Rizzo (HBP) and Kris Bryant (double) and things were looking pretty good. Well, until the third D-backs batter stepped into the box in the bottom of the inning.

Segura roped a ball into the gap in left-center and you could almost see it in slow-motion even before numerous replays dialed down the frames per second for us. Kyle Schwarber and Dexter Fowler were both tracking the ball and were heading to the same spot. The former crumpled to the ground after rolling his ankle under his teammate but still tried to lunge after the ball as it caromed just out of his reach. Fowler got the ball in, but Segura easily crossed the plate for his second home run of the game.

The insurance tally was less important than the potential loss of Schwarber, which had left Cubs fans utterly deflated. War Bear was able to stand and gingerly put a little weight on the left ankle, but he had to be carted off the field. He’s scheduled for an MRI on Friday, but initial reports are that x-rays were negative and that it’s being diagnosed as a sprain. Whew.

Let me just say again that this is not about Schwarber being inexperienced in the outfield or about Fowler not taking enough initiative as the centerfielder. It was two players going all-out for a ball in the gap, thus making communication between the two nigh impossible. Does it suck? Yes. Is it the first or last time such a collision will take place? Far from it. There’s no blame to be assigned here, just an unfortunate play that you wish could be rewound and avoided.

Playing in fog of Schwarber’s injury, the Cubs leveraged some heads-up baserunning to put up another pair of runs in the top of the 3rd. With Jason Heyward (single) and Ben Zobrist (walk) already on, Rizzo singled to drive home the former and push the latter to third. Kris Bryant then popped out harmlessly to Castillo, or so it appeared.

The former Cub had misplayed the ball a bit and fell while backpedaling to make the catch. Seizing the opportunity, Rizzo tagged from first and advanced. Beef Castle’s throw to second was off and scooted out into the outfield, allowing Zobrist to trot home. It was a perfect example of intelligent aggressiveness from a man who’s become quite a good baserunner despite not being accused of having blazing speed.

Of course, Lackey went and gave those runs right back later in the inning. The 6 runs allowed on 8 hits weren’t pretty, but he ended up throwing 84 pitches over 6 innings. That aforementioned walk to Goldschmidt was the only free pass Lackey issued on the evening, so at least he was throwing strikes. They weren’t, however, the kind of strikes we were expecting from the grizzled veteran.

Lackey wasn’t really able to keep the ball down and was getting absolutely rocked at times. Fortunately for him, though, the Cubs were doing more of the same to De La Rosa. Addison Russell doubled — this kid is going to have so many two-base hits — to lead off the 4th, Fowler tripled, Heyward walked and stole second, Fowler scored on an errant throw from new pitcher Jake Barrett, Zobrist walked, Rizzo tripled, and Kris Bryant singled. When the dust settled, they led 9-6.

And it was just the middle of the 4th inning. I’d like to think the barely contained insanity of the game sprung from my solicitation for recap writers prior to first pitch with the requirement that they summarize it in 500 words or less, but that would be giving my limited karmic influence far too much credit.

Not content to keep their scoring in single digits, the Cubs pushed another run across in the 7th on a squeeze play. Russell walked to lead off the inning, then busted it to go first-to-third on a Matt Szczur single before coming home on a bunt from Fowler that didn’t even elicit a throw to any base. By that point, the Cubs had chalked up 10 runs without the benefit of a tater. By that point.

Oh, hey, the Diamondbacks are already selling the ball from that Segura inside-the-park home run for $300. Setting aside the fact that it feels kinda blood diamond-y, I don’t understand why anyone would pay that much for a what is essentially a meaningless ball. Like, ITP homers are cool and stuff, but they come in the fourth game of the season in which your team ends up getting thumped…I mean.

Apparently Dave Stewart thinks his team’s fans are just as willing to overpay for game-used baseballs as he is for starting pitchers.

With the obvious exception of the War Bear incident, this game had the feel of an overmatched 400 meter race. You know how you see the runners come out of the blocks and it looks like ones on the outside are way ahead because of the stagger, only to see them blown away by faster athletes with inside position? That was Thursday night. Or, I guess now it’s Friday morning. Anyway, the Cubs basically just needed to make up the stagger against the D-backs, after which it was pretty much all academic.

Following Dexter Fowler’s 9th-inning walk, the Cubs’ 10th of the game, Jim Deshaies proclaimed after that it should have been called a forfeit then and there. He was being tongue-in-cheek, but it was getting to be a little like Roberto Duran out there. Right on cue, Ben Zobrist just doubled into the right field corner to score Fowler — and push Heyward, who had singled, to 3rd — as I typed that.

So then I go to update that earlier sentence about how awesome it was that the Cubs had scored 10 runs without the benefit of a homer, and Anthony Rizzo goes down to a knee to string a frozen rope over the fence in right. No mas! No mas!

When the game was finally euthanized, the Cubs had made a winner out of John Lackey by tallying 14 runs on 14 hits and 10 walks. That gives them 29 runs through three games, which is, you know, decent. This game started out about as poorly as it possibly could, but the Cubs poured it on and turned the tragedy into a comedy. I think I could get used to this, my friends.

I’m over my self-imposed limit and haven’t even touched on the bullpen’s solid performance. Oh wait, I guess I just did. Cool. Anway, I feel like I’ve gone a few rounds with Sugar Ray Leonard so I’m going to sign off. Let’s just keep those fingers crossed for Schwarber too, huh.

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