Going into extra innings in both halves of a doubleheader means some pitchers are going to have to pull double-duty. Incorporating the Manfred Man on second and the Cubs’ inability to score that free runner makes working in late relief a dangerous proposition. After failing to score in either the 10th or 11th innings Saturday afternoon, the Cubs had not registered a run in 13 of their last 14 extra innings.
That left the door open for the Mets, who picked up an unearned run against Mychal Givens when a sac fly scored Luis Guillorme from third. Forgive me for not breaking down the sequence of events that put Guillorme in that spot, but suffice to say the Mets leveraged their advantage for a minimal edge that proved to be the deciding factor.
Neither team was unable to do much in the second game, so the teams went into the 10th inning all knotted up at two runs apiece. The Cubs again turned to Givens, who allowed a single to Starling Marte before intentionally walking Francisco Lindor to load the bases and set up the possibility of a double play.
With an 0-2 count on Pete Alonso, Givens came up and in with a fastball that barely ticked off the first baseman’s elbow guard that extended well past his actual elbow. Had Alonso not been wearing that EvoShield product, the pitch would have merely sailed harmlessly past and things might have taken a decidedly different path. Or maybe Givens would have piped one that Alonso destroyed for a grand slam. Either way, I hate the idea that protective gear can serve that purpose.
The run that scored was unearned because it was the free runner, as was the tally the Mets added when Daniel Norris, on in relief to face a lefty, botched a pickoff throw at second. So while the Cubs were finally able to push a run across in their half of the inning, it wasn’t enough to keep Givens from wearing his second loss of the evening. Two losses with no earned runs allowed, yikes.
According to Elias Sports, that is the first time ever — or since both leagues began tracking earned runs in 1913 — that a pitcher had lost two games in a day without allowing an earned run. Though Givens was far from dominant in his two outings, giving up a hit in the first and both a hit and a walk in the second, this serves as an all-too-perfect footnote for a team that has found new ways to lose at each turn.
It’s not the worst Cubs team we’ve ever seen and, despite what some may choose to believe or interpret, Jed Hoyer didn’t have this in mind when he put the roster together. Imperfect though this was always going to be, it morphed quickly into an extended live-action portrayal of Murphy’s Law that doesn’t appear close to ending.