I think the craziest thing about the borderline-traumatic deadline selloff this year is that despite fielding what is essentially a glorified AAA team with maybe a future piece or two, the Cubs still find ways to completely drop the ball offensively against other AAA-level teams around the league like the Minnesota Twins. The baseball that went on this week was bad, considering we did lose both contests, but nothing matters anymore and we’re just counting down the days until the season ends. Let’s break things down.
September 21, 2021
Cubs 5, Twins 9
WP: Barraclough (2-0) LP: Mills (6-7)
Pitching? Defense? None of that existed today for seemingly either team, with eight runs scored in the first four innings of the game. Alec Mills gave up six hits and six runs. He also fell victim to hitting the deck in the 4th inning instead of catching a ball that was hit right at him, which has genuinely never made any sense to me. Is it really going that fast? Is it really hit that hard? A hit that barely made it to the outfield? You really can’t catch it? Am I in the wrong here?
At least Scott F-Ross made an attempt at catching a ball hit right over his head in the 5th inning. It was just a bit too high and ended up scoring yet another Twin, making the score 6-3. And a quick hit after that one made it 7-3. And by this time the game was all but over.
The Cubs tried their best offensively, with the team getting 11 hits (four more than they had in their win against the Brewers) and Trayce Thompson tying the game in the 2nd inning with a two-run dinger. A Willson Contreras dinger in the 3rd put the Cubs ahead briefly, but the Twins got a two-run lead just a half-inning later. The Cubs’ defense just couldn’t stop tripping over themselves despite some good hits in the bottom of the 6th by Rafael Ortega, Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom to make the score 7-5. That would be the last run the Cubs would score of the ballgame.
Every time a few runs were scored by the Cubs, the Twins just scored a few more, and by the 7th inning they had a four-run lead they wouldn’t give up. Every Cubs pitcher gave up at least one hit, with the five bullpen guys pitching an inning each. Trevor Megill had an especially terrible outing with four hits and two runs scored. I will enjoy wiping this game from my long-term memory.
September 22, 2021
Cubs 4, Twins 5
WP: Ryan (2-1) LP: Hendricks (14-7)
This game started out with Frank Schwindel making a big play at first base early, catching a line drive and immediately flashing the finger guns in true Schwindel fashion. Other than that, the story early was that our dear friend Kyle Hendricks was credited with the loss because he allowed two homers for Max Kepler in the 1st and 4th innings.
Nico Hoerner had a two-run single in the bottom of the 2nd to match Kepler’s RBI number for the game thus far, which was good because for a while there I forgot Hoerner was on this baseball team. Glad to see he’s still doing something. He scored Happ and Matt Duffy, who walked and doubled earlier.
The offense on both sides stagnated a bit outside of Kepler’s second homer that put the Twins ahead. But it was mostly the Cubs, who had issues figuring out Joe Ryan with Two First Names, the Twins’ starter, who was throwing some nasty pitches. Just as the Phillies did to the Cubs not too long ago, the Cubs allowed Ryan to strike out seven batters in a row. Ryan ended up striking out eleven Cubs in only five innings pitched, which brings me great pain to tell you.
Kepler almost hit his third homer of the game in the 6th inning, but it bounced off the wall as our prayers were answered. An error from everyone’s favorite second baseman Matt Duffy allowed Kepler to score and extend their lead to 4-2. The Cubs wouldn’t be able to score any runs until the 9th, where it was Happ who RBI’d Schwidel and Contreras who, with a weird play at 1st, RBI’d Happ to make the score seem a little closer than the game actually was.
With the bases loaded, Trayce Thompson struck out on three pitches, the last one being completely in the dirt, to end the game in true Javy Baez fashion. It’s almost like he never left?
The Cubs have a four-game series this weekend against the St. Louis Cardinals, including a doubleheader tomorrow. The Cardinals are red-hot, having won eleven games in a row, sweeping other teams grasping blindly at playoff spots like the Mets and Padres, and all but cementing themselves as the second Wild Card spot for the NL with the next-closest teams 4.5 games back. This weekend will be painful, because we hate the Cards with everything in us and the Cards will probably destroy us in the end. Another instance where turning on the football may be a more lucrative experience for you. Go Cubs go.