Notebook: No comeback in store for Cubs Sunday, Wick’s return, new roster addition
The day after an epic 9th inning, the Cubs were looking for another magical run Sunday in Arizona but fell just short.
The Cubs couldn’t complete the sweep of the Diamondbacks Sunday in Arizona, dropping the finale by a 6-4 score.
The offense erased a 2-run deficit in the 6th inning with back-to-back 2-out RBI hits. After the D-Backs regained the lead, the Cubs began the 9th inning with a Kris Bryant double and a Javy Báez RBI single. After a couple of outs, Rafael Ortega drove home Báez with a double.
Willson Contreras — who had the game-winning homer Saturday — came in as a pinch hitter, serving as the tying run but struck out looking to end the game.
“Guys continue to fight,” David Ross said. “We’ve seen that a lot.”
The Cubs bullpen — which had been lights out all series — hit a wild stretch in the 7th inning to give the Diamondbacks the lead for good. Arizona didn’t hit the ball out of the infield in the frame, scoring a run on a groundout and another on a wild pitch.
In the 8th inning, the D-Backs added some insurance with a 2-run shot by Eduardo Escobar off Rex Brothers.
Five Cubs pitchers combined to walk 11 batters Sunday.
With Milwaukee’s win earlier in the day, the Cubs fall to 9 games back in the NL Central.
“We won the series. That’s a good sign,” Ross said. “Today, just we weren’t very sharp. Too many free passes, to be honest with you. Sometimes that could be the layoff from the bullpen guys. [Dan Winkler] hadn’t thrown, Kyle Ryan hadn’t thrown. [Zach] Davies walked 4, pitched out of a lot of traffic.
“I thought yesterday would give us a nice boost into today and we weren’t able to close that thing out and score some runs and add on there. The free passes are a little bit frustrating but other than that, I thought we played pretty good baseball.”
Báez was also encouraged by his team’s start to the second half this weekend in Arizona.
“Really good,” Báez said. “Obviously happy to see everyone again when everybody got back. I think we’re gonna have a better second half.
“We gotta change the way we’re trying too much. I think a homer is not gonna change the game. Especially me — I’m trying to see the ball better and just take my singles and try to help the team better. I think we’re gonna adjust better this second half.”
Reinforcements on the horizon
The Cubs bullpen is on the verge of getting a huge boost.
Rowan Wick has been out of action since mid-September with a left oblique injury and has finally turned the corner on the troublesome side issue. He began a rehab stint with Class-A South Bend Saturday, striking out all 3 batters he faced in a perfect inning.
“I think he’s on his way back to being healthy and feeling good,” Ross said pregame Sunday. “The fact that he did have a nice outing and is coming out, feeling great today is a really nice sign.”
Ross also said David Bote and Matt Duffy have responded well during their own rehab stints with Triple-A Iowa.
“We’re getting some pieces back that could be really helpful for us in the 2nd half,” Ross said. “Rowan Wick in particular, it’s just nice to see him compete in a game.”
Wick has been a big piece of the Cubs bullpen the last two seasons with a 2.66 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 6 saves and 10 holds in 50 appearances.
New roster addition
The Cubs added a first baseman to the 40-man roster Sunday afternoon, claiming Frank Schwindel off waivers from the Oakland A’s. They optioned him to Triple-A Iowa and the Cubs’ 40-man roster now stands at 40.
Schwindel, 29, hits right handed and has 14 big league games under his belt, including 8 this season with the A’s. In Triple-A this year, Schwindel is hitting .317 with a .992 OPS, 16 homers and 41 RBI in 45 games.
He makes a lot of contact — his strikeout rate has climbed above 20% just once in his minor league career (2015 in Double-A). Schwindel was originally drafted by the Royals in the 18th round of the 2013 Draft.