Cubs 3B coach Willie Harris takes blame for ‘bad pitching’ in loss

CHICAGO — Cubs third base coach Willie Harris took the blame for sending infielder Nick Madrigal home with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning in the team’s 5-4 loss to Cincinnati Reds on Friday.

Madrigal was picked off by a wide margin as wide receiver Tyler Stephenson tagged him after accepting the relay throw from shortstop Elly De La Cruz.

“I had a chance trying to score right there,” Harris said. “It didn’t work for us, unfortunately, for me and the team.”

Madrigal was on first base accounting for the tying run when Cubs shortstop Seiya Suzuki hit a ball down the left field line that fell to Jacob Hurtubise. Hurtubise quickly threw the ball to De La Cruz, who turned and fired a 93.3 mph shot to Stephenson as Madrigal slid home. The plate piece wasn’t even close.

Moments later, Cody Bellinger flew out to end the game.

“We all learn from our mistakes,” Harris said. “Going forward, I’ll be better than that. I think I did a pretty good job. It was just a bad send off today. It’s on me today. And hopefully the guys will pick me up tomorrow.”

Madrigal added: “My job is to put my head down and give it my all. He made a perfect throw. It didn’t work this time. We’re not going to give it up.”

De La Cruz’s throw was his fourth-fastest of the season and his 11th at 90 mph or faster, according to Statcast. He ranks third among outfielders behind Pittsburgh’s Oneil Cruz and St. Louis’ Masyn Winn. Louis.

“Going forward, I’m going to be less aggressive with one out, knowing the situation a little better,” Harris continued.

Meanwhile, the homer was 27th for the Cubs in base paths (excluding stolen base attempts), the most in baseball. That includes another in the fourth inning on Friday, when Dansby Swanson was caught from third base on an infield single.

“And that’s my fault, I guess,” Harris said.

The loss dropped the Cubs to two games under .500, a season-worst tie for the last time after the first two games of 2024.

Chicago finished the month 10-18, just slightly better than Cincinnati’s 9-18 record in May. Both teams are looking at the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central, but it’s the Cubs who will be mourning Friday’s game after their questionable ninth-inning sendoff.

“Willie has been fantastic and his aggressiveness has gotten us a lot of runs this year,” Cubs manager Craig Counsell said. – It didn’t work this time.