Baseball was played Thursday at Wrigley Field, something that seemed like a remote possibility at daybreak but became reality as showers that caused flooding throughout the area relented for just long enough.
That was bad news for Alexi Ogando and the Texas Rangers.
Ogando struggled to command any of his pitches, in particular his fastball, over only 2 1/3 innings, and he was rocked for five runs as the Chicago Cubs rolled to a 6-2 victory to close out the Rangers’ two-city road trip.
Ian Kinsler started the fourth inning with his fifth homer of the season, and Nelson Cruz connected for another solo shot in the seventh. Just about the only other good news for the Rangers is that they have to make up only one game at a later date rather than two.
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Ogando, though, would like a do-over after he struggled from the start. A lack of fastball command, a problem that has plagued him since spring training, was the root cause for his dreary day.
“It was difficult to command my fastball, and that affected all my pitches,” Ogando said. “This was by far the worst of all my outings. When I was trying to throw strikes, they took advantage of the pitches that were up.”
Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano hit back-to-back homers in the third inning, the first two homers against Ogando (2-1) this season. He had allowed only two runs in his first three starts.
But he was lucky to escape the first inning without any damage, as first baseman Mitch Moreland snared a Rizzo liner that was headed to the corner for an RBI double. Ogando also was fortunate in the second, when he allowed the game’s first run.
But the Cubs opened the third with four straight base runners, all of whom scored. David DeJesus started with a triple and quickly came home on a wild pitch. Starlin Castro then walked and scored ahead of a two-run shot by Rizzo.
Soriano followed with a shot into the left-field bleachers.
Ogando retired Nate Schierholtz before getting the hook, having thrown 71 pitches. Though his fastball command was spotty at best, he didn’t fare well with his slider or changeup either.
“It was everything,” manager Ron Washington said. “Whenever he made a mistake with a breaking ball, they hit it. Whenever he made a mistake with his fastball, it left the ballpark.”
Ogando also said that a wet mound contributed to his woes, but Cubs starter Carlos Villanueva didn’t seem bothered by it. He allowed only four hits, and got out of trouble thanks to three double plays.
The Rangers finished their road trip at 3-3, but the offense mustered only 17 runs and batted .241 (53 for 220). Not only did Kinsler and Cruz provide the only runs, they also were the only two players with hits.
The last five spots in the order were a combined 0 for 14.
“We didn’t do a good job offensively scoring runs, so it was just one of the days where it wasn’t meant to be and didn’t work out,” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “That’s baseball. That’s the way things work. We’ve got to be ready to go again tomorrow.”
The Rangers must return to Chicago on a mutual off day for the teams, which could be May 9 after the Rangers finish up a two-game series at Milwaukee. Even though the outcome wasn’t very good Thursday, there was some relief that the game was played.
Just don’t expect to hear Ogando say anything like that.
“I would have wished for better results, but I am [glad],” Washington said. “That’s one game we don’t have to play when we return.”