Adbert Alzolay took the mound for the Cubs on Tuesday evening looking to build upon an excellent four inning debut last week against the Mets. Ronald Acuña Jr. greeted Alzolay rather rudely with a solo home run on the first pitch of the game to give the Braves a 1-0 advantage.
Max Fried carried a no-hitter into the 4th inning, but it would not go beyond that as the Cubs offense began to figure him out. Javy Báez broke up the no-hit bid with a single to right and Willson Contreras continued his quest to start catcher in the All-Star Game, doubling in a pair of runs giving the Cubs a 2-1 lead.
Despite giving up the leadoff homer, Alzolay settled down and went to work on the Atlanta lineup. He did not surrender another hit the rest of the evening, but he ran out of gas with two outs in the 5th inning, giving Joe Maddon no choice but to pull him.
Mike Montgomery came on in relief of Alzolay and wriggled out of a bases-loaded jam by coming back from 3-0 to end the threat. Then he came back out and served up a two-run homer to newly minted Cubs killer Ozzie Albies in the 7th, giving the Braves a 3-2 lead that turned in to the game winner. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
The bullpen not being able to hold the lead late is troublesome, but the Cubs’ anemic offense reared its head once more. Striking out 13 times against Braves pitching and 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position is not a great strategy for winning ballgames.
The Cubs squandered a golden opportunity in the bottom of 2nd. With one out and the bases loaded, Alzolay bunted through what appeared to be a suicide squeeze attempt, leaving Báez hung out to dry between third and home. Contreras was thrown out trying to reach third during the Báez rundown, an all around ugly play that swung momentum back in the Braves favor.
Stats That Matter
- Alzolay: 4.2 IP,1 hit, 1 run, 4 K, 4 BB
- Baez: 1-for-2, BB, R
- Contreras: Double, 2 RBI, BB, 5 RBI in series
- Brad Brach: 2 IP, 3 K, 1 BB; this is a good sign for a pitcher who is a candidate be DFA’d upon the arrival of Craig Kimbrel
Good pitching with little to no offense isn’t always the greatest recipe for winning, especially against the likes of a first-place Atlanta team. Since their seven-game winning streak ended on May 5, the Cubs have played no better than .500 ball. Somehow, someway, this team has to find a way to be more consistent offensively.
The Cubs take on the Braves in game three of this four-game series on Wednesday at 7:05pm CT Yu Darvish will look to snap his streak of no-decisions against the newest Brave, Dallas Keuchel. The game can be viewed on WGN and heard on 670 The Score.