The Cubs were only charged with a single error in Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Mets, but boy does that ever understate how poorly their defense played.
In retrospect, the theme of the night was glaringly foreshadowed with the very first batter. With the shift on, Curtis Granderson hit a sharp grounder to short. But Javier Báez was playing in shallow on the grass, and the ball bounced off of his glove. It was the only Cubs error on the night, and the damage was erased a moment later when Granderson was caught stealing.
To end the inning, Lucas Duda hit a long fly ball to left that Kyle Schwarber caught. But while sprinting towards foul territory he overran the ball, and at the last minute had to stab his glove backwards to make the nervy catch.
Things were all calm in the field until the Mets came up to bat in the sixth inning, tied 2-2. With Yoenis Céspedes on third, Michael Conforto struck out for what should’ve been the third out of the inning. But Miguel Montero couldn’t handle Trevor Cahill’s pitch in the dirt, and Céspedes scooted home.
Up next was Wilmer Flores, who smacked a single to right. Jorge Soler inexplicably decided to charge the ball, and could only dive futilely as it rolled past him. Conforto would have scored—and Flores would have ended up at third or maybe home—but the ball got stuck in Wrigley’s ivy. The ground rules say that’s only a double, and the umpires had no discretion to go “c’mon man, Conforto was already home, the run counts.” Instead there were men on second and third, and Jacob deGrom flied out to end the inning. Neither Cahill’s wild pitch nor Soler’s awful dive were counted as errors.
The next inning, with first and third and one out, Céspedes ripped the ball to left. Schwarber took a step or two in before realizing the ball was going deeper than he thought, and started backtracking. He got his glove up but couldn’t snag the ball, and a run scored on what was charitably scored a single.
Lucas Duda was the next batter, and he hit a high-bouncing grounder to first. Instead of going directly home to try and get Daniel Murphy—who, to be fair, might have still been safe—Anthony Rizzo took a second to step on first. His throw home was up the line and late, and Murphy scored.
That is three runs (reminder: the Cubs lost 5-2) scored on plays that weren’t officially ruled errors, but showcased poor fielding by the Cubs. That number would’ve been greater too, had Granderson not gotten caught stealing or if the game had been played at one of the 29 other major league ballparks that don’t feature ivy.
When you hear stat geeks carp on how errors are a bad way to measure defensive quality (or lack thereof), games like tonight’s are one of the prime reasons why.
Photo via AP