Cubs lose ‘game of inches’ to Diamondbacks in pitchers’ duel

An extended replay review saw Corbin Carroll’s eighth-inning flare to right bounce off the grass before settling into Seiya Suzuki’s sliding grasp, plating the game’s only run.

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Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs

Corbin Carroll hits an RBI single in the eighth inning Friday that replays showed right fielder Seiya Suzuki trapped.

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It was chilly, with the wind blowing in enough that even the three batted balls that exceeded 300 feet Friday afternoon prematurely fell to the Wrigley Field warning track. Ace Zac Gallen was on the mound for the Diamondbacks. An infield single by the Cubs’ Seiya Suzuki in the fifth inning was the first hit for either side.

Sometimes a game feels destined to swing on something small.

“Game of inches,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “Maybe one walk from [reliever Jose] Cuas is probably the game.”

In the case of the Cubs’ 1-0 loss, the difference-maker in the eighth — after Cuas (0-1) walked Gabriel Moreno and advanced Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to second base — was small enough that umpires needed an extended replay review to see that Corbin Carroll’s flare to right field bounced off the grass before Suzuki’s sliding grab. But it was big enough to turn what looked to be Mark Leiter Jr.’s escape from an inherited jam into the decisive RBI single.

“I saw a trap, unfortunately,” second baseman Nico Hoerner said. “With those replays, when it’s one way on the field, you hope that there’s not enough evidence to overturn it, even if it looks like it.”

More than 30,000 in attendance could argue their afternoon was spoiled. Hoerner reached base twice but certainly would have swapped that for his fly out in the first drifting a few more feet into the left-field basket.

Still, no one’s day was affected more than that of Cubs starter Jameson Taillon. Through six scoreless innings, he matched Gallen blow-for-blow, striking out nine and not allowing a hit until a two-out single by Corbin in the sixth. But after just 77 pitches, he was pulled before the seventh rather than face the Diamondbacks’ lineup a third time, while Gallen (15-7) chugged on to the first nine-inning shutout of his career, flattening a Cubs offense that’s third in MLB in runs scored since the All-Star break.

In a game decided by so little, the decision to turn to the bullpen merits a closer look.

“He was done,” Ross said of Taillon, declining to elaborate. “I thought he pitched a phenomenal game. We had a fully rested bullpen.”

None of Taillon’s full-season numbers look great right now, but hitters do have a .300/.336/.450 line against him when facing him a third time this season.

“I totally get it,” Taillon said. “We’re in September against another team that’s in the [playoff] hunt. Every pitch matters. I think they felt like they probably got to the end of the road with me.”

Julian Merryweather and Adbert Alzolay, both pitching on multiple days of rest, delivered a scoreless seventh and ninth, respectively. But pulling Taillon after six necessi-tated a piecemeal plan for the eighth, in which Cuas came out to face a pocket of right-handers, with Leiter ready for the lefties if anyone reached base.

Despite troubling overall control numbers and this typically being a spot for Michael Fulmer, who’s injured, Cuas had shown better command of his slider recently and hadn’t issued any walks in his last five outings. But that run ended when he followed up on allowing Gurriel’s leadoff single with the walk to Moreno.

Even after that, Cuas struck out Jordan Lawlar. Leiter came on and struck out Geraldo Perdomo, then was an inch and a replay review from getting Carroll to line out softly and end the threat.

There’s room for regret for the Cubs — mostly for not doing more against Gallen.

“Nobody’s trying to hit 110 mph right through the four-hole,” left fielder Ian Happ said after his hard ground out ended the game. “You can’t determine where the ball goes.”

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