Cubs

Cubs battle, but Tuesday's brutal loss to Padres a missed opportunity to gain ground in postseason standings

Cubs battle, but Tuesday's brutal loss to Padres a missed opportunity to gain ground in postseason standings

As the clock ticks down on the 2019 regular season, the only way to view Tuesday is as a missed opportunity for the Cubs.

With the Cardinals losing to the Rockies and the Nationals falling to the Twins, the Cubs had a golden chance to gain ground in the National League postseason standings. A win would've put them three games behind St. Louis for first place in the NL Central and 1.5 behind Washington for the top NL Wild Card spot.

Instead, the Cubs suffered a brutal 9-8 walk-off loss, one that you can't help but feel slipped right through their fingers. To add insult to injury, the Padres scored the victory by recording three straight walks off Steve Cishek in the 10th inning, the final one coming on four pitches.

Woof.

The anticlimactic ending was disappointing in its own right, but especially when considering what the offense did on Tuesday. Despite going down 6-2 and 8-5 at various points in the game, the Cubs fought back, eventually tying the game at 8-apiece in the eighth inning. 

Seeing the Cubs claw their way back into the game should be viewed positively despite the loss. So should the individual performances of Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward, two players who have struggled over the last month or so.

Entering Tuesday, Bryant held a .241/.328/.414 slash line since Aug. 1, hitting just five home runs over that stretch (none since Aug. 21). Heyward's line over that same stretch is even more glaring: .170/.295/.330. The duo led the charge Tuesday, though, as both hit a pair of home runs while walking once and twice, respectively.

So, if you're looking for positives, Bryant and Heyward are a great place to start. The Cubs won't be able to start a full-strength lineup until October, at the earliest, as Javier Báez is out the rest of the regular season due to a hairline fracture in his left thumb.

Nevertheless, they still have a roster capable of being formidable offensively, as evidenced by Monday's 10-run outing and their most-recent showing. This is contingent on Bryant being healthy, of course, which he certainly looked Tuesday, his first game since receiving a cortisone shot in his balky right knee on Sunday.

Ultimately, however, the Cubs finished the night in the same position as they started in, if not a worse one. The Brewers took down the Marlins 4-3, which, combined with the Cubs' loss, puts Milwaukee a game behind the Cubs for the second Wild Card spot. For what it's worth, the Brewers have an uphill battle to climb, as they'll be without Christian Yelich (fractured right kneecap) for the rest of the season.

At this point in the season, though, moral victories are worth little to nothing. With 18 games left in the regular season, every game and win means more than prior to it, especially for teams in a heated postseason race.

The Cubs still have seven games against the Cardinals in their back pocket, meaning that if they can keep their divisional deficit in a similar position as it is currently, they'll have a chance to usurp St. Louis. This task only becomes more difficult by the day, though, when opportunities like Tuesday's aren't taken advantage of.

2019 has featured plenty of heartbreaking losses for the Cubs. Considering the chance they had Tuesday, the latest should be right up there amongst the rest.

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Brandon Morrow sidelined with upper chest strain, no timetable for return

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USA TODAY

Brandon Morrow sidelined with upper chest strain, no timetable for return

Brandon Morrow’s comeback attempt has hit a bump in the road.

Morrow, the Cubs reliever and former closer, has what the club is calling a “mild right upper chest strain,” according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Bastian added Morrow felt the strain in his last bullpen session and there is no clear timeline for his return.

The strain is the latest ailment to sideline the oft-injured Morrow, who hasn't pitched since July 2018 due to a series of arm troubles. The 35-year-old has undergone two elbow surgeries since then (November 2018, September 2019) before becoming a free agent this winter. He rejoined the Cubs on a minor-league deal.

Morrow entered camp optimistic the latest procedure did the trick to get his elbow healthy. The Cubs have been easing him into action — the right-hander is throwing one bullpen every four days. Morrow said earlier this month he’s experienced some aches and pains but attributed those to being part of the rehab process.

Morrow is listed as day-to-day, according to Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune. But considering his injury history — and the fact he was already unlikely to crack the Opening Day roster —  the Cubs will proceed with extreme caution. There's no need to expedite his return, mild strain or not.

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David Ross has flu, won't manage Saturday's spring training opener

David Ross has flu, won't manage Saturday's spring training opener

David Ross' spring training managerial debut will have to wait until Sunday, at least.

The Cubs' first-year skipper has the flu and will miss Saturday's game against the Oakland A's. Bench coach Andy Green will be the acting manager in his place.

Saturday isn't going as planned for the North Siders. Besides Ross' absence, inclement weather in Arizona forced the club to push back first pitch from 2:10 p.m. CT to 7:10 p.m.

Weather permitting, here's the lineup the Cubs are rolling out tonight against Oakland:

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