ST. LOUIS -- Cubs pitcher Jason Hammel played catch in the tunnel, rode the stationary bike, and probably played a few video games during the lengthy one-hour, 43-minute rain delay in the middle of the second inning Sunday night against the Cardinals. That wasn't the problem.
"Honestly, I didn't feel any different," Hammel said of his before-and-after performances in the Cubs' 4-1 loss. "The difference before was I was dotting, and I couldn't get the ball at the knees after [the delay]. It was either a strikeout or a double. Missing with teams like this, gap-to-gap guys, they put good swings on the ball. It's hard to beat a team when you have guys trading places at second base all night long."
Hammel retired the side in order on 11 pitches in the first, but his turn in the second was interrupted by the lengthy delay that included a tornado warning. When Hammel returned, he got the first two batters out in the second, but then Yadier Molina doubled before scoring on Xavier Scruggs' single.
Hammel needed 20 pitches to get through the fourth, serving up RBI doubles to Jason Heyward and Molina, and started the fifth, but after giving up a double to Kolten Wong, he was pulled. Cubs manager Joe Maddon said he kept a close eye on the right-hander and felt it was time to make a change.
The four-plus innings matched Hammel's shortest outing of the season, first done June 18, but his turn then ended early because of rain. On Sunday, he tried to shrug it off.
"They're quality hitters, professional hitters," Hammel said of the Cardinals. "That's what you get in the big leagues. You can't be in the middle of the zone, and that's where I was when I came back [from the delay]."