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Tigers 2, Cubs 1: Pittsburgh redux

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This road trip is turning into a nightmare.

Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

This is getting ridiculous.

For the fifth consecutive game, the Cubs scored exactly one run, and posted it on a solo homer. This time, the home-run man was Anthony Rizzo [VIDEO].

That’s pretty impressive, actually, hitting a ball out of the ballpark while on one knee and falling down after the ball was hit. It didn’t have much on it:

But, that was enough to get it out of Comerica Park.

At the time, the top of the sixth, it was enough to cut the Tigers’ lead in half, because once again Kyle Hendricks had first-inning woes:

From the second inning on this season, Hendricks is basically the pitcher he’s been from 2014 through the end of 2017. In the first inning, he’s DFA fodder. This is almost completely inexplicable.

Also inexplicable is the Cubs’ complete inability to score any runs beyond those five solo homers hit over the last five games. In this one, the Cubs had RISP in the first and fourth innings, but other than that no Cubs runner got past first base. This was against Jordan Zimmermann, who had a 5.85 ERA over his previous six starts.

If you can figure this out, contact Joe Maddon right away, because I’m sure he’d like answers.

Cubs pitching has been outstanding over those five games:

Generally, when your pitching is that good, you should probably win games like that.

The score might have been higher against the Cubs if not for some good defense that turned into double plays. First, a strikeout-throwout DP in the third [VIDEO].

Next, a line drive to Ben Zobrist with runners on second and third in the fifth [VIDEO].

Lastly, Hendricks snagged a line drive with a runner on first base in the seventh and flipped to Rizzo to complete the Cubs’ third twin killing of the evening. Contreras had earlier picked Mikie Mahtook off first base. So the Cubs played solid defense all night, but all that accomplished was making this another tough one-run loss.

Joe Maddon had the same take on this game:

What more can you say about a game like this? Pick up and move on to the next one.

Small consolation: The great pitching over the last five games has moved the Cubs to within 12 runs of the Diamondbacks, who lead the National League in fewest runs allowed (501 for the Cubs, 489 for the D-backs). Unfortunately, the lack of run scoring has dropped the Cubs to third in the N.L. in runs scored. After scoring 800+ runs the last two years, the Cubs are on pace for only 770 this year, currently averaging 4.75 runs per game. That average was well over 5 for most of this season, until recently.

The Cardinals defeated the Dodgers again Tuesday evening to move to within 2x games of first place, and they leapfrogged the Brewers into second place as Milwaukee lost to the Reds at Miller Park. The Brewers trail by three games. That would be a comfortable lead at the end of the season, but not now. The Cubs are simply going to have to generate more offense. New acquisition Daniel Murphy might help:

As I noted last night, I’m reasonably certain that Addison Russell, who was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup with a shoulder issue, will be placed on the 10-day disabled list later today to make room for Murphy on the 25-man roster.

That’s it, really, for this one; all the Cubs can do is come out Wednesday evening and try it again. Jon Lester will be on the mound for the Cubs and Francisco Liriano starts for the Tigers. Game time again is 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage Wednesday will be via WGN.