Disappointed Cubs Manager Laments Leaving 'Too Much Chicken on the Bone'


No team in the National League piled up more victories than the Chicago Cubs through 162 games. That seems like small consolation now.

Kyle Hendricks gave up a tiebreaking single to Tony Wolters in the 13th inning, sending the Cubs to a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies in a marathon wild-card loss on Tuesday night.

Chicago lost two home games with a chance to reach the NL Division Series. The Cubs scored a total of two runs over 22 innings, dropping a tiebreaker to Milwaukee for the NL Central championship and then getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Rockies.

They squandered a dominant start by Jon Lester, got shut down by Kyle Freeland and wasted several big scoring opportunities. Hendricks came in to retire the final two batters in the 12th and got the first two in the 13th before running into trouble.

Trevor Story grounded a single through the left side and Gerardo Parra lined one to right, putting runners at first and third. Wolters — who came into the game as part of a double switch in the 12th — then drove an RBI single up the middle.

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In the bottom half, Terrance Gore acted as if he was hit by a tight pitch and was ordered back to the box. The Cubs challenged the call to no avail. Gore, Baez and Albert Almora Jr. then struck out, bringing a marathon game and a difficult season to a fitting end.

“Yea, we played that game a lot,” manager Joe Maddon said. “Believe me, it was on my mind for a large part of it. We had some opportunities, we just could not cash in. They pitched really well, too, but we need to figure that out in the offseason next spring training. As my buddy Dave would say, we left too much chicken on the bone right there.

“We’ve had plenty of opportunities and I’m not here to denigrate anybody, our work’s put in, the hay’s in the barn, everybody cares, it just didn’t play out this way offensively. We caught the ball, we pitched really, really well. Like I said, the esprit de corps I can’t ask for more. So it was just something we really have to focus on in the offseason.”

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The Cubs had a long line of injuries and didn’t get the contributions they expected from some key players. That didn’t stop them from going from 4 1/2 games behind Milwaukee to leading the division by five games in early September, only to have the Brewers tie them on the final weekend of the regular season.

They got shut down by Jhoulys Chacin in a 3-1 tiebreaker loss to Milwaukee, then had to watch Colorado celebrate after winning the longest win-or-go home game in major league history.

It was a bitter end for a team that made the NLCS the previous three years and won a World Series in 2016 that ended a drought dating to 1908. A franchise that for decades was defined by heartache has more wins the past four seasons than any other team.

But this loss stings.

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The Cubs — who finished fourth in the NL in runs despite being held to one or zero in 39 regular-season games, one fewer than the Baltimore Orioles for the most in the majors — managed just four hits in 6 2/3 innings against Freeland. Anthony Rizzo grounded into a double-play with two on in the sixth, and they left the bases loaded in the seventh when Jason Heyward struck out.

Chicago had another chance in the 11th.

Baez walked leading off against Seunghwan Oh and moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Almora. Daniel Murphy was intentionally walked and Baez got tagged out by Arenado on Willson Contreras’ grounder to third.

As Arenado applied the tag in the middle of the base path between second and third, Baez wrapped his arms around him. Arenado smiled and patted him rather than try a throw to first.

Chris Rusin then retired pinch-hitter Victor Caratini on a grounder to first to end the inning.

The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.

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