It’s not often in a Major League Baseball game that one swing of the bat can put the game away in the first inning, but that’s what happened in Game 1 of Wednesday’s doubleheader. Alec Mills had a rough start to this one, hitting Kolton Wong after starting out 0-2 on him. Tommy Edman followed that with a seeing-eye single to center putting runners on the corners. Mills walked Paul Goldschmidt before surrendering a grand slam to Matt Carpenter. That blow, combined with the Cubs’ struggles on offense, essentially ended the game before it had a chance to get started.
The final line for Mills was 3.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 BB, and 1 SO. It was the first real clunker for the young Cubs righty in what has been a surprising emergence in the early going. The combined output of Duane Underwood Jr. and Jason Adam was able to get the Cubs through the final 2.1 innings, which, if nothing else, saved some of the “bigger arms” in the ‘pen for the nightcap.
In a game that the Cubs had a grand total of two hits, there isn’t much to get excited about, but if I am forced to go with a Cub for the “Good,” I’m going with Ian Happ. David Ross turned to Happ for the second time in the leadoff spot since Kris Bryant has been temporarily shelved after receiving treatment for an ailing wrist. Happ led off the bottom of the first with a booming home run, his third home run in as many days. Later, he did strikeout in an ugly plate appearance with the bases loaded, but considering the woes the Cubs have had in trying to find a leadoff hitter, any production is a huge plus. He did later add a walk to his productive day at the plate.
Honorable mention goes to Josh Phegley who collected his first hit as a Cub with a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh.
Having already picked on Alec Mills, I feel a little guilty going back to him, but his final line is pretty indicative of the kind of outing he had. In fact, it could have been worse. He wasn’t missing many bats, and even the outs he recorded were pretty loud. When Jose Quintana went down before the season had a chance to begin, most fans did not know what to expect from Mills. He has an elite curveball and has thus far been able to put together some really nice outings. Today was one to forget. Quintana is nearing a return, but this game notwithstanding, Mills has made an argument for remaining in the conversation. Whether his role will be in long relief or the rotation is yet to be determined.
Despite finally ripping a double in Tuesday’s win, Javier Baez still does not look comfortable at the plate. He went 0-3 in this one, including two strikeouts, dropping his slash on the season to .192/.245/.356. The Cards combined to toss a two-hitter, so obviously, Baez was not alone in his struggles, but he is the star of this lineup. It is hard to overcome such a stark lack of production from the three-hole.
The Cubs have to hit the delete button on this one and get ready to go back on the attack. Game 2 of the doubleheader will start shortly. The Cubs are expected to go with Adbert Alzolay on the mound. Alzolay has run into a ton of bad luck on the injury front over his career’s earlier stages; however, he is still a highly regarded prospect in the Cubs system, one that is conspicuously lacking in impact arms. His status for this game had been in doubt after taking a liner off the forearm in South Bend, but he is healthy and ready to go. Cubs fans may have the opportunity to catch a glimpse of the future in Alzolay. In the here and now, the Cubs are desperate for a win. If they can earn a split of the twin billing, they will escape a tough series against a division rival that featured five games in three days with a respectable 3-2 record.
Featured Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
- Michael Kopech is a tale of self-awareness we can all learn from
- The Northside Show – February 21, 2021: Spring Training Notes and how the Tatis Jr. extension impacts the cubs
- Desert Deets: Kopech, Vaughn and ’21 Expectations
- White Sox Spring Training Preview: With Rebuild in the Rearview, it’s Winning Time