The evening opened with a punch to the solar plexus and was then punctuated by a hail of kicks to giblets. And that wasn’t even the ballgame itself. By the time I turned off the Cubs radio feed last night, a fan lay in a hospital bed and four Dallas police officers were dead while several others fought for their lives. To call it a rough night would be an understatement I can’t better metaphorically describe because I was up too late and my brain is having trouble computing all this madness.
I’ll not linger on the non-baseball topics though. Not because those things aren’t important, but because I believe that sports offer us a refuge of sorts, some measure of solace in a world gone largely made. For a brief moment Thursday night, Willson Contreras gave us shelter with a two-run, go-ahead triple in the 8th inning. The reprieve, however, was short-lived.
The emotional murk and mire were preceded by a leaden sky that unleashed enough rain to create a waterfall off Wrigley’s roof and turn the warning track into a mud pit. Whether it was the rain delay or simply a volatile mix of booze and stupid, a man in the bleachers decided to jump the basket in an attempt to make his way onto the field prior to the start of the game. As a reward for his idiocy, he earned a free trip to the hospital.
I’ll reiterate that I sincerely hope the man is okay, but I’m having a really hard time feeling sorry for him in any way. After all the senseless violence we’ve witnessed over the past day/week/month/forever, I just can’t muster a great deal of sympathy for someone who willingly and needlessly puts himself at risk like this. And by all accounts, the dude had been inviting trouble for a while before he eventually jumped.
So that was a great way to usher in the game.
After about a 90-minute delay, Jason Hammel did his damndest to make me look really smart right off the jump. Ugh, that was a poor choice of words. In any case, Hammel gave up a home run to lefty Nick Markakis, thus verifying my fears and eliciting a chorus of “Here we go again.” But the Cubs starter was able to retie his other shoe, thus preventing it from dropping for the next four-plus innings of scoreless ball.
Hammel would eventually leave in the 6th after walking leadoff man Gordon Beckham. Joe Maddon and a trainer went out to the mound during the at-bat after noticing that something was amiss, but they allowed the pitcher to remain in the game. It was evident, however, that he was having issues with cramping in his right hand and he was pulled in favor of Travis Wood.
Wood got two outs before Maddon gave the ball to Kyle Hendricks in his first-ever relief appearance. The slight starter gave the Cubs two innings of clean baseball and then turned it over to Justin Grimm, who picked up the last out of the 8th. And that’s when the fun started.
With two outs and no one on in the bottom of the 8th, Braves starter Lucas Harrell hit Kris Bryant for the second time in the game. Enter reliever Hunter Cervenka, who promptly hit Anthony Rizzo, eliciting a shower of boos from the home crowd. There was even a sense from the online crowd that the results of those pitches were intentional, as though the Braves would be putting the tying runs on base just to send a message.
That’s dumb both in terms of logic and strategy, so let’s forget anyone was even thinking it.
Ben Zobrist then roped a double to right to score Bryant and put the the tying run on third for Contreras. Like the young catcher who was called up and forced himself into last year’s lineup, all Contreras has done since joining the Cubs is hit. This time it was a triple to center that gave his team the lead and may have ended with a chest contusion. And then the rest of the game happened.
Hector Rondon ran the count full on Nick Markakis before leaving a fastball up to get tagged over the wall in center to tie the game. The closer went on to strike out three Braves, but the damage was done. The next pair of innings was honestly a bit of a blur, as I was paying more attention to the developments in Dallas than to the goings-on in the game. I do know that Spencer Patton walked leadoff man Freddie Freeman and there was some other sloppy play before Tyler Flowers eventually drove in the game-winning run.
Oh, there was also the whole bench-clearing business after Jeff Francoeur took exception with an inside pitch and having a rookie catcher jaw at him. Didn’t really seem prudent to make a big deal out of a fake fight though.
Nick Markakis homered twice and Tyler Flowers won the game. What the? I guess the Cubs just Cubed harder than the Braves were able to Barve.
The All Star Break can’t get here soon enough, as it seems like Murphy’s Law is dictating the Cubs’ season at this point. This just sucks right now and there’s really no other way to put it. I’m pissed about how this team is playing and about all the other crap going on in the world and about how everyone seems to need to turn everything into social or political agenda. Ugh.
I’ve got nothing to say other than try to have a short memory and move on to the next. But I’d also to encourage you to do something nice for a stranger today. Your family too, sure, but with all the divisive rhetoric flying around, I’d love to see us all try to make even the simplest efforts to show people that we can get along. Cliche? Sure. Doesn’t make it any less true or effective.
Be good to one another, friends.