The lack of overall output by the Cubs’ offense is creating a razor-thin margin for error. It increases the importance of every play made in the name of run prevention, given the corresponding issues with run creation.
In the sixth inning of Monday night’s 6-3 loss to the Brewers at American Family Field, shortstop Javier Báez made one of those crucial decisions. With Adbert Alzolay turning in a gem on the mound, Báez made a heads-up play to preserve a slim lead.
The move worked, too, albeit temporarily.
“That’s the thing you want to get out of,” Cubs manager David Ross said, “is feeling like you have to play with such a small margin.”
With the bases loaded and no outs, Báez gloved a grounder from Lorenzo Cain and made a quick throw home with zero hesitation. Catcher Willson Contreras stepped on the plate for the out, keeping the Cubs ahead, 1-0. Had Báez tried to turn a double play, it would have resulted in a tie ballgame.
That small lead was important, as the Cubs’ laboring lineup managed just one run — via a Kris Bryant home run — off Freddy Peralta in his six innings. The right-hander struck out 10 and allowed just two hits, getting the kinds of whiffs that have been prevalent out of the gates this year for the North Siders.
The Cubs added two runs in the ninth, when Báez delivered a double to…