On Wednesday, the Chicago Cubs entered play after scoring three runs in their previous two games against the San Francisco Giants. In those contests, the Cubs combined to go 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, a situation that had not been a problem in the first week of this month.
Despite their offensive struggles during the previous two games, it looked like the Cubs would get off to a quick start on Wednesday. A hit-by-pitch and walk by Giants’ starter Johnny Cueto put two runners on-base with no one out for the Cubs in the top half of the first inning. Those runners, however, would be stranded as Cueto induced a strikeout and two fly outs, making the Cubs 0-for-3 with men in scoring position after one inning.
The Cubs’ inability to hit with men in scoring position did not do them any favors on Wednesday as they lost to the Giants in walk-off fashion 5-4.
That number would not get any better in the following frame as back-to-back two-out singles by Victor Caratini and starting pitcher Mike Montgomery put runners on the corners with two outs. Entering play, Zobrist was batting .263 in that very situation, a number that would only go down on Wednesday as the veteran grounded out to end the Cubs’ threat.
Just two innings later, in the fourth, Zobrist once again stepped to the plate with runners on first and third and two outs. This time, he struck out, giving Cueto three in the frame.
On Wednesday, the Cubs could not afford to leave runners on base as the Giants broke through with four runs in the first inning off Montgomery. Entering play, Montgomery had made eight starts this season in Yu Darvish‘s stead. In those starts, the left-hander had posted a 2.76 ERA after logging a 5.33 ERA as a reliever earlier in the year.
Despite that sparkling ERA, Montgomery had struggled in his last three starts. Across 16 innings, Montgomery allowed ten earned runs on 19 hits. On Wednesday, the southpaw’s stretch of bad outings continued.
Things got started off with a solo home run by Chase d’Arnaud on an 0-2 count that quickly put the Giants up by a run. A walk and a two-out infield hit put two runners with two outs in the inning. Following the infield hit, Gorkys Hernandez roped a double into right field that plated two runs, giving the Giants a three-run advantage. Just a batter later, the Giants proved they did not have a problem hitting with runners in scoring position as Steven Duggar singled into center, scoring Hernandez and putting the Giants up by four runs.
Despite being 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position during the early frames, the Cubs were able to generate three runs through the first five innings. Two of those runs came in the fifth when Kris Bryant blasted his tenth home run to dead center field in his first game back from the disabled list. That home run drew the Cubs within a run after Jason Heyward got the Cubs into the scoring column with his sixth home run in the third inning.
After getting off to a rocky start, Montgomery was able to settle down and give the Cubs five solid innings. His final line looked like this: five innings, eight hits, four earned runs, one walk and one strikeout on 84 pitches.
Cuteo likely pitched the better game, but he too was lifted after just five innings. The right-hander’s final line looked like this: five innings, six hits, three earned runs, three walks and seven strikeouts on 86 pitches.
With the Giants up 4-3 in the sixth inning, the Cubs loaded the bases after Bryant drew a two-out walk. Anthony Rizzo then stepped to the plate hitting .375 with the bases loaded this season. That average did the Cubs’ first baseman no good as he grounded out to third base to end the threat.
Rizzo’s ground out made the Cubs 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday and Rizzo 0-for-2 on the day as the North Sider’s left ten men on base through the first two-thirds of the game.
Trailing late, All-Star Javier Baez mashed his 18th home run of the year leading off the seventh inning. That home run was Baez’s second of the month, a month in which the youngster was hitting .343 with a .543 slugging percentage entering play on Wednesday. More importantly, Baez’s home run tied the game at four and completed the Cubs’ comeback.
The score remained tied at four until the bottom of the 13th inning when Buster Posey walked off the Cubs with an a shot off the right field wall, giving the Giants a 5-4 win.
Despite fighting back from a 4-0 hole early in the game, the Cubs were not able pull off their 29th come-from-behind victory on Wednesday as James Norwood suffered the loss in his first major league appearance.
With the loss, the Cubs drop to 52-38 while the Giants improve to 49-46 on the season.
Next Up For The Cubs
The Cubs will open their final series of the first half on Friday, July 13 at 9:00 p.m. in San Diego. Taking the ball for the Cubs will be right-hander Tyler Chatwood (3-5, 5.01 ERA). Chatwood has struggled greatly in his last two starts, issuing 14 earned runs over 10.2 innings of work. In addition, the 28-year-old walked seven batters in those starts, pushing his total to 70 in 79 innings.
Opposing Chatwood will be former Cub Clayton Richard (7-8, 4.50 ERA). The southpaw has had his own troubles with the free pass in his last two turns in the rotation, walking nine batters in 11 innings of work. Four of those came in his last start on July 8 against the Arizona Diamondbacks as the left-hander yielded five hits and three earned runs over five innings.
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