Cubs Observations: Javy Báez falls, bats can’t get up vs. Braves

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Tim Stebbins
·4 min read
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Observations: Javy Báez falls, Cubs can’t get up vs. Braves originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Cubs lost 5-2 the Braves on Friday, dropping to 5-8 on the season — tied for last in the division with the Pirates ahead of their game against the Brewers.

Here’s 10 observations from the game.

1. Ian Happ lined a single off the left-center field wall in the first inning. He was held to one base after a nice play by Marcell Ozuna, but regardless, it was the Cubs’ first leadoff hit to start a game this season.

2. Willson Contreras getting hit by a pitch is seemingly becoming a gamely occurrence. Following Happ’s single, Contreras took a Kyle Wright sinker off his left elbow guard, the fifth time in 12 games he’s been plunked — most in MLB.

Contreras led all of baseball last season with 14 hit by pitches.

3. Speaking of that, the Cubs as a team now lead MLB in hit by pitches with 13. Contreras, Javy Báez (twice) and Matt Duffy each wore one on Friday.

4. The Cubs entered Friday with the worst average in baseball with runners in scoring position (.093 — 7-for-75). They didn’t do much to change that, going 0-for-8 in those situations against Atlanta.

That includes stranding runners on second and third with one out in the first inning (0-0 score) and first and second with one out in the seventh (Braves leading 5-2).

5. Joc Pederson came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning vs. lefty Will Smith. Pederson, who entered Friday 1-for-11 against southpaws, struck out.

6. Báez lost his footing on consecutive two-out ground balls in the fourth, one of which led to a run. First, Freddie Freeman legged out an infield single after Báez was caught in between making a throw to first or going for a force out at second.

Then, Báez fell to the ground on an Ozuna grounder, and a hustling Ronald Acuña Jr. scored from second, Báez’ low throw escaping Contreras.

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"Just one of those plays where your Gold Glove guy doesn't come through for once, and he's come through so many times with so many great plays for us," said bench coach Andy Green, Friday's acting manager as David Ross served his one-game suspension.

7. Ross was complimentary of Acuña, off to a hot start this season, pregame, joking the Cubs would throw the 23-year-old knuckleballs to shut him down. Acuña did his thing, tallying two RBIs along with that run scored.

8. Báez had an all-around rough day. He struck out in the fifth, missing two fastballs in the middle of the zone — fouling one off and swinging through the other. He struck out on a curveball down out of the zone.

In the eighth, he attempted a bunt with a man on first, popping it up to catcher Travis d'Arnaud for the first out of the frame.

9. Zach Davies had another short outing after not making it out of the second inning last Saturday. The right-hander threw four innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits and three walks.

Davies was better than last week, and his line was impacted by those two ground balls Báez didn’t turn into outs. Even so, the Braves worked his pitch count to 90 by the end of his outing.

10. With Friday's two-run output, the Cubs have failed to score more than five runs in all 13 games this season.

Bonus: The Cubs are three games under .500 for the first time since April 15, 2019, when they improved to 6-9 after a win over the Marlins.

Next up: The Cubs and Braves are back at it again on Saturday at 1:20 p.m. Huascar Ynoa (0-0, 0.75 ERA) and Trevor Williams (1-1, 6.75 ERA) are the probable starters.

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