Cubs 6, Tigers 7: Defense, Bullpen Falter in Tough Loss

This is a bit of a difficult post-game article for this writer to pen. It has nothing to do with the final score or the way the game was played. The country I call home is bleeding. Some, perhaps most, of our wounds are self-inflicted. The game of baseball that I have come to love and cherish as so central to my sense of entertainment and even joy feels so insignificant in the face of such prevalent pain and suffering. I cannot begin to imagine how players like Jason Heyward are feeling right now. In truth, it is not my place to imagine. It is my place to listen. His absence from tonight’s ballgame spoke volumes. 

The Good

Tonight’s game wasn’t pretty, and as such, it is not surprising that no one player really stood above the rest, so I am going with a trio of “good” performances. As I will highlight later, Ian Happ had a very rough night in right field, but he did not carry that to the plate. On the night, he had three singles and walk, scoring one. 

Nico Hoerner was productive at the dish as well. He matched Happ’s three singles and walk, and bested him with two runs on the night.

Finally, Jon Lester had a nice-if-not-spectacular bounce-back from his ugly outing against the White Sox. The Tigers pounded out 18 hits on the night, tagging Lester for eight of them, but he did a solid job of working around runners on base, leaving the game with the chance to pick up the win before things imploded. His final line for the night was 5.0 IP, 8 H, 1R, 1BB, 5 SO.

The Bad

Cubs fans have grown accustomed to getting quality starts out of the rotation. Tonight was one of those nights where the team really needed a solid outing from the ‘pen. Lester was good, but his creeping pitch count led to David Ross turning the game over to Rowan Wick to start the sixth. Things quickly unraveled, but I’ll save some of the blame for the defense in a bit. 

By the time this one was over, the bullpen had surrendered six runs, turning a 3-1 lead into a 7-6 loss. This game really had the feeling of a defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. The defense was definitely a big part of the problem (I’m not good at waiting), and the implosion wasn’t caused by wildness as has typically been the problem. Instead, the bullpen was just hit hard, early and often. If the Cubs really have any hopes for an October run, they have got to figure out how to take a two-run lead from a starter to the finish line, especially against teams who are under .500. Which, of course, should go without saying. 

The Ugly

Quite frankly, the defense from the sixth inning on had some absolutely ugly moments. Things started downhill when Willson Contreras seemed to lose track of where he was on a foul popup by Austin Romine and missed what should have been a catch. There was no error on the play, but it was an out that should have been made. Romine went on to double home a run. That set the tone. Happ took a couple of poor routes that resulted in extra bases. There was some bad luck involved, but overall the defensive play was not up to the standards the Cubs have been setting for themselves throughout this season.

What’s Next

The Cubs have a day off on Thursday before heading to Cincinnati for a weekend series against the Reds that will feature a doubleheader on Saturday. Kyle Hendricks is set to take the mound against lefty, Wade Miley. First pitch will be at 6:10 CT on Marquee Network.

Featured Photo:  Jon Durr/Getty Images


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