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Rockies 7, Cubs 6: More Bullpen Follies

That wasn't a very good way to start a road trip.

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Going into Friday night's game, the Cubs were 69-3 when leading entering the eighth inning this year.

Now that record is 69-4, after this play, which happened about 1:35 a.m. Chicago time (thanks to a long rain delay and extra innings):

Ryan Raburn -- who, as you know, I've hoped the Cubs would sign as a bench player on several occasions -- doubled off Aroldis Chapman in the 11th inning to score the tying run and was waved around to the plate when a relay throw went into the Cubs' dugout. The Rockies had a 7-6 win and for the first time this year, the Cubs lost a game in which they had a four-run lead.

The teams traded solo homers in the first inning. Dexter Fowler hit Tyler Anderson's third pitch for his 10th homer of the season [VIDEO] and it gave him homers in consecutive at-bats at Coors Field, since he hit a game-winner in the top of the ninth in the last game the Cubs played there, back in April 2015.

Rockies rookie David Dahl homered off Kyle Hendricks in the bottom of the inning and that was an "Uh, oh" moment, because in general Hendricks' stuff is not good enough to prevent those sorts of things in a place like Coors Field. Also, having both leadoff hitters homer in a Cubs game is a rare occurrence:

Give Hendricks credit. He allowed only three other hits, plus a walk, and threw six solid innings. While this was going on, the Cubs pushed across another run in the third, thanks to three singles and then smart thinking by Hendricks:

Hendricks, who singled and went to second on a Kris Bryant hit, headed home on a single by Anthony Rizzo, but then fails to touch the plate as he runs by it. Plate umpire John Tumpane made no call, but the Rockies treated the play as if he had. Just to confirm the run scoring, Hendricks, looking like he was out for a stroll along the promenade, quietly walked back toward the plate (as he'd have had to go in that direction anyway to get to the Cubs dugout) and stepped on it to ensure the run. (The run would have counted anyway if the Rockies had abandoned the play and gone on to face the next hitter.)

Addison Russell gave the Cubs that four-run lead at 5-1 with his 15th homer of the season, a two-run shot in the sixth. Things were looking good.

Not so good was the early bullpen work. With two out in the seventh, the Rockies scored a run on a double which was followed by a throwing error by Bryant, allowing a run to score to make it 5-2. Travis Wood then gave up a single and walk to start the eighth, and Joe Maddon summoned Carl Edwards Jr.

Edwards wasn't good. He allowed an RBI double, then a groundout scoring a run to make it 5-4, and this play followed:

The call on the field was "out," but you can see on that video that DJ LeMahieu got his foot on the plate before Willson Contreras put the tag on him, and the score was tied.

Give credit to Cubs rookies Felix Pena and Rob Zastryzny. Both threw scoreless innings. Pena struck out a pair. Zastryzny wound up loading the bases on a pair of singles and a walk, but got out of it with a ground ball.

The game moved on past midnight in Denver, 1 a.m. in Chicago. In the 11th, the Cubs took the lead on this RBI single by Fowler [VIDEO], scoring Contreras and making it 6-5 Cubs.

With Chapman entering the game, that gave the Cubs a very good chance to put it in the "W" column.

But Chapman got hit. After a groundout, Nick Hundley singled and Raburn hit the double that would eventually win the game on the bad relay throw. Maddon had decided, earlier Friday, to give Jason Heyward the entire weekend off, as the Rockies were throwing two lefthanded pitchers, and Joe also apparently felt Heyward could simply use the time. Could Heyward have caught up to Raburn's hit?

And beyond that, Chapman did not throw with his usual velocity. Only one of his 10 pitches broke 100 miles per hour, and he threw mostly sliders to Raburn. Is there something about altitude that affects Chapman's fastball? He threw one other game at Coors Field this year, June 15 with the Yankees, and looking at that play-by-play, you see that in the 20-pitch inning he threw that day, only five pitches broke 100 miles per hour.

Or was he just gassed after throwing in both games of the doubleheader Tuesday, and then having to throw 24 pitches Thursday? At the very least, Chapman is probably not available for tonight's game.

Don't know what to say beyond this. These kinds of games happen to every team, every year, no matter how good you are. It's frustrating given the big lead, and the way the Cubs have played over the last three weeks or so, but consider:

  • The Cubs still have a 12-game division lead
  • The Cubs still have a +208 run differential
  • The Cubs are 14-3 in August

Feel better now?

Fortunately, no rain is in Saturday's forecast for the Denver area, so the second game of this series should be played as scheduled at 7:10 p.m. CT. Mike Montgomery will make his first Cubs start, and his opponent, Jeff Hoffman, will be making his major-league debut.