Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Diamondbacks 7, Cubs 5
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs dropped a 7-5 decision to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday afternoon on the 100th anniversary of the first game ever played at Wrigley Field. Here's a quick look:
How it happened: Relievers Pedro Strop, James Russell and Justin Grimm helped the Diamondbacks erase a 5-2 ninth-inning deficit, turning it into a 7-5 victory. Strop walked two of the first three batters and in between Starlin Castro booted a ball to set up the inning. Subsequently a batted ball hit second base and bounded into the outfield while Justin Ruggiano misplayed one single and then fell down attempting to catch the game winning triple. The Cubs erased a 1-0 deficit with a three-run fifth inning as Darwin Barney's sacrifice bunt was thrown away, scoring Mike Olt from third. Pitcher Jeff Samardzija followed with a sacrifice fly and Emilio Bonifacio's groundout plated a run as well. Cody Ross singled home a run in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to one, but the Cubs quickly extended the lead again with two in the bottom of the inning as Ruggiano hit his first home run as a Cub. Samardzija threw 7 1/3 innings, almost earning his first win of the season although he failed to get it due to the bullpen.
What it means: On a special day with plenty of former Cubs looking on, the Cubs played one of their best games of the season -- until the ninth. Their infield defense has been spectacular lately as Barney flashed his glove several times, Starlin Castro was solid and Olt made several nice plays at third. On the mound, Samardzija continued a great first month, actually seeing his ERA rise to 1.53. The key is he worked into the eighth inning as his goal to improve his pitch efficiency has been on target.
The closer: Strop, Russell and Grimm all had a chance to close the door but either walks or hits just kept on coming for the Diamondbacks. At this point it might be Hector Rondon's job to lose considering he came in for Samardzija in the eighth with runners on and closed the door. He hasn't given up a run since last season. There's no one else left to try there.
What's next: The Cubs go for a series win at 1:20 p.m. CT Thursday as Edwin Jackson (1-1, 5.40 ERA) takes on Mike Bolsinger (0-1, 10.29).