It was more disappointment for the Cubs Saturday night with a second consecutive frustrating loss to the Reds. This time, Chicago built an early lead before another bullpen meltdown doomed them.
Dansby Swanson tripled off of Cincinnati starter Brandon Williamson in the 1st inning and would score on an automatic double from Ian Happ. Jameson Taillon was better than he has been most of the season, yet he was far from lights-out on Saturday and gave up a game-tying RBI single to Nick Senzel in the 2nd.
Nico Hoerner gave the Cubs the advantage back in the bottom of the frame with a run-scoring single. Hoerner made a heads-up play, advancing to second on the throw to the plate, allowing him and Patrick Wisdom to score when Swanson followed with a hit of his own and it was 4-1.
That’s when the Jonathan India show began with an RBI single in the 3rd inning. Matt McLain knocked in a run in the 5th with two outs and ended Taillon’s day. The much-maligned Michael Fulmer took over and promptly surrendered the go-ahead two-run homer to India.
Fulmer walked two in the 6th inning before coming out, then Jeremiah Estrada gave up a single to the very light-hitting catcher Curt Casali to plate a sixth tally. India put the game away in the 7th with a second two-run bomb against Estrada.
The Cubs got the tying run to bat in the 9th inning but it amounted to nothing and the Reds sealed the series victory. (Box score)
Despite his nasty stuff, Fulmer has been a complete disaster in high-leverage situations this season. Taillon isn’t exactly a great option, but I think it would’ve been better to try and stick with him to at least get through the 5th inning.
Why the Cubs Lost
Although the offense and the starting pitcher certainly could have done more, this feels like another bullpen loss. India is the one guy on the Reds you can’t let beat you and yet that’s exactly what he did Saturday.
Stats That Matter
- It’s not the best sign that allowing four in less than five innings is considered a “good” start for Taillon: 4.2 IP, 4 R, 6 H, 5 K, and 1 BB.
- Hoerner and Swanson each had a pair of hits and remain one of the bright spots of the Cubs season.
Fan frustration with the North Siders and manager David Ross is reaching a boiling point. Even if expectations were too high for 2023, something has to change or it’s going to be another 73-win season. Some of the fanbase would be happy with a managerial change, but I’m not sure that would make much of a difference.