The Cubs were attempting to earn their first series win in over three weeks Sunday in Cincinnati after splitting the first two game of the weekend series. As has often been the case of late, sloppy play did Chicago in and the Reds took the game and the series.
The home team was sporting some flashy 1936 throwback jerseys and maybe the red pants threw the Cubs off, because they started badly. Jon Lester walked Nick Senzel and Kyle Schwarber dropped a routine fly ball from Joey Votto to put the first two men on. Eugenio Suárez made that hurt in a big way when he bombed a 457-foot homer to dead center.
The 3-0 lead looked huge as Cincinnati starter Anthony DeSclafani silenced the North Siders’ offense through six innings. Lester also settled in, allowing nothing through the 5th inning. He tired in the 6th and allowed a run on a Phil Ervin bloop single to make it 4-0.
The Cubs finally rallied against Michael Lorenzen in the 7th inning when Addison Russell doubled, Albert Almora singled, and Schwarber homered to left to cut the lead to 4-3. Chances to tie the score with men on base later in that inning and in the 8th came up empty.
Dillon Maples and Kyle Ryan did not fare well in the bottom of the 8th and the Reds scored four. Those runs turned out to be important as closer Raisel Iglesias — in his second inning of work — allowed a three-run shot to Jason Heyward in the 9th. Iglesias was able to finish off the 8-6 victory. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
The Cubs keep leaving plays on the field, whether runners in scoring position or misplays on defense. Sunday saw plenty of both and it isn’t a recipe for success.
After closing the gap to 4-3, Chicago had a bullpen meltdown in the bottom of the 8th. The failure to keep the game close really hurt when the road team plated three runs in the 9th.
Stats That Matter
- Lester was actually pretty good Sunday: 5.2 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 5 H, 8 K, 2 BB. Unfortunately, there were two runners on in front of his one big mistake.
- Heyward now has homers in three consecutive games and this is the best he has looked as a Cub.
- Daniel Descalso is not good and he is sporting a .548 OPS after going 0-for-3 with a walk. That is just not major league worthy and, as with Carlos González, the time to move on from the veteran is here.
The Cubs end June with a 14-15 record that is indicative of how they have played. Their last series win was the sweep of the Cardinals early in the month and something has to change lest this mediocre stretch continue.