Stop me if you've heard this one before. Or don't; if you stop, you won't be reading the rest of this recap.
Cubs starting pitcher begins well, holds the opposition to one run early, and the Cubs stay in the game, eventually tying the score. Right then, Cubs starting pitcher gives up runs, not quite enough to make you think it's over, but then gives up more runs, putting the game essentially out of reach.
I could stop here, right? How many times this year have the Cubs played a game much like the 6-1 loss to the Dodgers Friday night? How many more rhetorical questions can I ask? Don't answer that.
It's really inexplicable. Jeff Samardzija threw a decent game, just not decent enough; he didn't walk anyone, which is a step in the right direction, but gave up eight hits and five runs and had to be lifted in the sixth. Positives: Scott Maine and Alberto Cabrera finished off the sixth with no further scoring. Cabrera struck out the only hitter he faced, Luis Cruz, on four straight sliders; Cabrera, in two brief appearances, looks like he has real potential.
Meanwhile, the Cubs were squandering most of the few scoring chances they had. The photo at the top of this post was chosen because it shows the only run they did score, Darwin Barney scoring on a Luis Valbuena double. Look closely, because we might not see that scene repeated too many times in this series.
It's really inexplicable. (Don't stop me, I know you've read that before, just before the jump in this very post.) The Cubs have the second-worst differential between their home record (27-24) and road record (16-37) -- 13 games. Only the woeful Astros have a bigger differential -- 16½ games. Some other teams with losing records actually have played better on the road this year (Royals, Phillies).
Also, it continues the Cubs' complete failure to win a road game against a team from the NL West this year; they got swept in a four-game series in San Francisco in early June and had a similar fate in a three-game series in Arizona later that month, so this makes them 0-8 against NL West teams in their home parks. I wouldn't expect that to change at least until the team gets to San Diego.
I'm beginning to wonder about Steve Clevenger. Since he came back from the oblique injury he's hitting .184/.212/.246 in 118 plate appearances. That's Koyie Hill-ish production. Oblique injuries are difficult to come back from and can affect a player even after they appear to be healed, so I'll give Clevenger some slack on this. Perhaps it's time to see Welington Castillo start for an extended trial -- maybe a couple of weeks straight -- to see what he can do, despite the known issues with his pitch-framing and game-calling.
The teams will play again Saturday night, an hour earlier (8:10 p.m. CDT); if you're expecting a different result, you're likely going to be disappointed.