Cubs see how thin margins are with loss to lowly Royals

Before losing to the Royals on Friday, Cubs manager David Ross warned against looking at this current stretch of 12 games against sub-.500 teams as a cakewalk.

SHARE Cubs see how thin margins are with loss to lowly Royals

Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. tags out Nico Hoerner at second base in the ninth inning Friday. Hoerner tried to stretch a single into a double.

Erin Hooley/AP

Before a 4-3 loss to the lowly Royals on Friday, Cubs manager David Ross warned against looking at this stretch of 12 games against sub-.500 teams as a cakewalk.

“We were the team last year that made it hard on a lot of other teams that thought we weren’t that good,” Ross said.

Other than the Royals’ defense sputtering during a three-run Cubs fourth, the rest of the afternoon was a demonstration of how thin the margins are in the majors, even against MLB dregs.

Two errors led to unearned runs off starter Jameson Taillon, the latter setting up Bobby Witt Jr.’s two-run shot that just made it to the center-field basket.

The tenor of Nico Hoerner’s impressive three-hit day, including spraying a 102 mph neck-high fastball down the right-field line, was flipped when he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double in the ninth inning.

Ross and Hoerner expressed no regrets about being aggressive.

“He made a good play,” Hoerner said before mentioning getting picked off to end the fourth.

“I had a miscue earlier in the game that’s more within my control.”

Ian Happ’s two-out walk would’ve put Hoerner in scoring position anyway, but Cody Bellinger tried to check his swing on a two-strike breaking ball and was rung up, the final borderline call going against the Cubs (62-59) on the day.

“You want to be mad,” Ross said. “You want to yell and scream. I started to and then . . . it was close.”

Time to step up

Maybe at some point in the next six weeks, the Cubs will consider calling up one of their rising first-round picks — Jordan Wicks or Cade Horton — to help out their rotation or bullpen.

But Ross batted down the idea that he’s eyeing the farm system before the game. And amid the uncertainty surrounding Marcus Stroman’s availability for the rest of the season, the Cubs’ rotation is looking inward.

“I have an opportunity to step up and prove why they went and got me,” said Taillon, who had a quality start in a losing effort. “My numbers aren’t going to get to where they need to be or where I’m used to. But that’s OK. All that matters is putting us in a position to win every fifth day.”

Javier Assad’s cameo in the rotation — he has a 3.20 ERA in four starts this year — figures to become indefinite. And after being moved to the bullpen in the middle of the year, Drew Smyly and Hayden Wesneski are options to return to the rotation.

“I’ve probably never been a part of a team where it’s mattered more than this year: quality innings across the board and people stepping up,” Taillon said.

A day for Lin

The Cubs have announced plans for this Saturday to honor the late Lin Brehmer, the longtime WXRT radio host and cultural icon who died from cancer earlier this year at 68.

Members of Brehmer’s family are scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch ahead of the game, a playlist of Brehmer’s favorite songs will run between innings and a video montage of the longtime morning-drive host singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” will play during the seventh-inning stretch.

The Latest
The Bally’s River West casino effort has been troubled from the start. Public hearings on the matter could be just the thing to find out what’s happening — and how to move forward.
Montgomery’s OPS is more than 100 points lower than his minor league career OPS. “He’s handling it very well,” Paul Janish said.
The three were shot just before 2 p.m. Wednesday in the 5900 block of South Western Avenue. They all were hospitalized in good condition.
The Illinois secretary of state’s office launches a mobile unit to bring the services of a brick-and-mortar office closer to workplaces and into communities.
Seoul-based Lotte Hotels & Resorts is holding a grand opening Thursday for L7 Chicago by Lotte, the first L7-branded hotel in the U.S. meant to appeal to younger travelers.