After a tough loss on Friday, the Cubs looked to bounce back Saturday night at Busch Stadium. It was close early, then after a long rain delay, the Cardinals bullpen outperformed Chicago’s and St. Louis won the series.
Anthony Rizzo put the Cubs ahead with a solo homer off of starter Jack Flaherty in the 1st inning. The Cards first baseman answered right back, as Paul Goldschmidt tied the score with a homer against José Quintana in the bottom of the inning.
Jason Heyward went deep in the 2nd to make it 2-1 Chicago. Quintana walked Flaherty to open the 3rd and he scored after singles from Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna. With the score tied in the 5th the rains came and the game was delayed over three and a half hours.
Play resumed with Tyler Chatwood on the mound for the Cubs. After a clean 5th, the wheels came off in the 6th. Ozuna singled and came all the way home from first on a Matt Wieters double. Dexter Fowler singled home Wieters and he scored on a Kolten Wong two base hit. Seemingly in a blink the Cardinals led 5-2.
The Cubs had their best scoring threat against John Brebbia in the 7th. Addison Russell singled and scored on a David Bote double. Albert Almora Jr. walked and Andrew Miller replaced Brebbia. Daniel Descalso bunted past Miller to load the bases with none out.
Unfortunately, the road team’s runner in scoring position problems persisted. Kyle Schwarber struck out, Kris Bryant had an RBI ground out, and Rizzo whiffed to keep St. Louis ahead 5-4. Fowler and Harrison Bader hit back-to-back homers off Kyle Ryan to increase the lead to 7-4. Carlos Martinez saved the Cardinals victory. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
The bullpen issues of late continued, they allowed five runs in four frames. The rain likely cost Quintana at least two innings. Getting the ‘pen to cover six innings in its current state is a hard ask.
The North Siders had a golden opportunity down 5-3 with the bases loaded and none out, in the 7th. The top three hitters in the order could not come through again in a big spot. Bryant hit what looked to be a line drive single up the middle (103.1 MPH off the bat), but it deflected off Miller’s glove to the shortstop for a forceout. The other two at bats were strikeouts, not what you want with men on.
Stats That Matter
- Quintana was solid in his abbreviated start: 4 IP, 2 R, 4 H, 6 K, and 1 BB. He only had 69 pitches so he might be able to go deeper than usual next start.
- Heyward’s homer was his ninth, which is one more than he hit in all of 2018.
- Carl Edwards Jr. pitched 1.1 perfect innings in a one-run game, so that was a good thing from the bullpen.
The Cubs dropped to second-place, 0.5 games behind the Brewers with their loss. Chicago is in a 6-11 slump at the moment, it was inevitable after the 24-8 hot-streak they rode to climb out of their early hole. There are still 106 games left to go, so there will be more ups and downs to come.
Chicago looks to salvage the final game of the series Sunday at 1:15 CT. Veterans Cole Hamels and Adam Wainwright duel on the mound. The game is available on MLB Network (out of market) and WGN, while radio coverage is on 670 the Score.