The Cubs pivotal nine game road trip resumed on Friday in their home away from home at Wrigley North against the Milwaukee Brewers. Their offense was stymied early by Brewers’ starter Gio Gonzalez, who allowed no hits over the first five innings. The no-hit bid came to an end in the 6th inning after Albert Almora singled to center. In the following at-bat, David Bote launched a two-run homer ending the shutout and giving the Cubs a 2-0 lead.
Kyle Hendricks was able to keep the Brewers off the board with five solid innings of work. He had good command of his breaking pitches and limited a potent Brewers’ offense to only two hits. He was pulled in the top of the 6th for a pinch hitter after throwing 90 pitches.
In the bottom of the 8th inning it happened again, the Cubs’ bullpen coughed up the lead. After giving up a walk and hit-by-pitch, Brandon Kintzler was pulled in favor a Pedro Strop, whose been struggling in relief lately. Strop proceeded to load the bases with a walk and promptly served up what proved to be a game winning two-run single to Ben Gamel. (Box Score)
Why the Cubs lost
The Cubs offense being unable to solve a very pedestrian Gonzalez certainly didn’t make things easy, but the bullpen collapse, walking a batter and hitting two, was unacceptable in a tight game.
A walk, two hit batters and a two-run single in the bottom of the 8th turned what should’ve been a Cubs’ victory into another agonizing road loss.
Stats That Matter
- David Bote had a nice game: 1-for-3, HR, R, 2 RBI
- Ian Happ‘s first game back was uneventful: 0-for-3, K
- Kyle Hendricks pitched a good game but his pitch count was too high no thanks to a questionable strike zone all night: 5 IP, 2 H, 5 K, 2 BB
Strop has been the model of consistency for the Cubs until this recent stretch and tonight he continued struggling mightily. If the Cubs are to make a deep playoff run this year they’ll almost certainly need to pull the trigger before the deadline to fortify the bullpen.
The Cubs are now 8-5 since the All-Star break, dropping a pair against the Giants they easily could’ve won. Beating the Brewers on Saturday night will go a long way towards getting things back on track for the Cubs.