CHICAGO -- The ball left Kris Bryant’s bat in the second inning, went up in the air and appeared headed toward the outfield grass just beyond the bag at second. Then the 26-mph wind took over.
The ball blew all the way over to shallow right, and rather than being an easy inning-ending out, it fell for a two-run double.
It was that kind of day for the D-backs, who misplayed a couple of balls and saw their bats go cold (pun intended) in a 5-1 loss to the Cubs on a 44-degree Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
“The play that compounded things was the popup that would have been the third out of the inning,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We talked extensively about that in our advance meetings. We knew that it was going to be a tough situation. We got a lot of experienced coaches that have been on this field and it just beat us. There’s no excuse for that. I think we’re going to learn from the circumstance and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Said Cubs manager Joe Maddon, “Everybody knows the wind's blowing, but it still catches you by surprise, because it drifted that far. So once that occurred, everybody was kind of on alert a little bit more. But that thing moved a lot -- a lot.”
D-backs second baseman Wilmer Flores seemed to have a bead on the popup, but in point of fact, he lost it after it went up in the air.
“We have played with the wind before,” Flores said. “But first I lost the ball in the sun, so by the time I saw the ball, it was late. It was nowhere near me. But the first thing is that I lost it in the sun, because we know how to play with wind. I just lost it in the sun and then it was just too late for me to get where the ball went.”
Pregame, the D-backs knew the wind would be tough, and that was reinforced in the first inning when Bryant hit a popup to first that ended up blowing way into the seats.
Arizona starter Merrill Kelly (1-2) was not about to put the blame for his performance on the popup.
The right-hander, who had been good at throwing strikes in his first three starts of the year, walked seven and was in trouble in each inning before departing after 3 2/3 frames, yielding three runs and throwing 109 pitches.
“It also could have been a different day for me if I didn’t walk seven people,” Kelly said. “That’s what I’m taking away more than the wind, more than anything. The elements are going to be the elements. I can’t control those. But I can control pounding the zone. And I can control throwing strikes and being better at owning counts and being ahead in counts, and I think that was probably what came back to hurt me the most.”
None of it might have mattered given the way Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (1-3) threw.
The right-hander changed speeds and held the D-backs to just three hits over seven scoreless innings.
“He had it going in a pretty good direction,” Lovullo said. “His two-seamer was very, very good, and he was bringing it to both sides of the plate. It was ball-to-strike and it had late action on it. Sometimes you have to tip your cap to what a starting pitcher can do. He had a good day. He had a very good day.”
The loss snapped the D-backs’ four-game winning streak.