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Royals 9, Cubs 0: Yikes

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Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

Jose Quintana retired the Royals 1-2-3 in a six-pitch first inning.

That’s good!

Jose Quintana struggled through a 31-pitch second inning in which he issued a pair of two-out walks and then gave up a two-run double to a guy who entered the game hitting .182.

That’s... not good.

And that’s about how well Wednesday’s 9-0 Cubs loss to the Royals went, their worst shutout loss of the entire season. Why? Because baseball, of course.

Even so — that’s just a two-run lead, and the Cubs can come back from a two-run deficit early, right?

Not in this one, unfortunately. Heath Fillmyer, whose name sounds like the guy who’s your State Farm agent’s supervisor, limited the Cubs to three singles in seven innings and a pair of walks. Of those five baserunners, two of them were in the first inning (single by Anthony Rizzo, walk by Jason Heyward). That went nowhere.

The Cubs next had a baserunner in the fifth when Kyle Schwarber walked with one out. Ian Happ hit a ground ball that looked like it would be a double play, but Adalberto Mondesi threw the relay to first away. Instead of staying at first, Happ tried for second and was thrown out easily to end the inning.

I mean, I get that Joe Maddon wants his baserunners to be aggressive, but that was just... not good.

Quintana, meanwhile, managed to finish six innings without allowing any more runs. Here’s where the DH rule got him in trouble, because at 89 pitches after six, it’s very likely Joe Maddon would have batted for him somewhere around the fifth or sixth in a N.L. contest. But without having to do that, Quintana was permitted to start the seventh.

Whoops, bad idea. Two first-pitch singles were followed by a three-run homer that put the game far out of reach.

After a strikeout, that was likely enough pitches seen for Quintana, and Joe summoned Tyler Chatwood.

Chatwood was just... bad. He managed to get the remaining two outs in the seventh, of course sandwiched around a walk, because what would a Chatwood outing be without a walk?

That was just a prelude to an awful eighth inning in which he allowed a walk, a couple of extra-base hits and... seriously, you really don’t want to hear all the gory details, do you? Four runs scored and that means that since June 19, when Chatwood’s ERA was last under 4.00, he’s posted an ERA of 8.26 and a 1.976 WHIP, with 25 walks and five home runs allowed in 28⅓ innings. That’s just... horrific. I’d rather have had John Lackey back for another year than to see Chatwood’s bad pitching.

There has to be some arm fatigue, right? Shoulder inflammation? Something that could send him to the disabled list for a while? I mean, sure, this game was probably not winnable after the seventh and it was useful to have Chatwood give the rest of the bullpen the night off, but there are guys on the Iowa Shuttle who could do that without being that bad.

Normally I show you some Cubs video highlights in recaps. This is literally the only Cubs highlight available [VIDEO] from the video package associated with this game.

An infield single. That’s it.

And here’s the only “fun” fact for this game:

Not very much fun, I’ll admit.

The Brewers defeated the Padres Wednesday night so the Cubs’ lead in the N.L. Central was cut to 1½ games. While the Cubs enjoy their off day Thursday, perhaps the Padres can take the third game of their three-game set in Miller Park and help the Cubs out.

This wasn’t the way the Cubs figured to finish the seven-game stretch against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Padres and Royals. 5-2 would have been fine, 4-3 seems somehow bad, even though it’s a winning mark over seven games.

Best thing they can do is just shake this one off and get ready to face the Nationals in a three-game series beginning Friday at Wrigley Field. The Nats play the Braves Thursday afternoon, so here’s hoping that game goes into long extra innings and wears out Washington’s bullpen.

The Cubs are going to adjust their rotation a bit after the Nats series:

Kyle Hendricks will remain on a normal five-day schedule despite days off Thursday and Monday and will pitch the series finale against the Brewers on Wednesday.

Quintana, who is 4-1 with an 0.92 ERA in seven career starts against the Brewers, would be lined up to start the two-game series Tuesday.

The juggling also means left-hander Mike Montgomery, whose work has been monitored closely since he made the transformation from reliever to starter on May 28, could have his next start pushed back to Aug. 18 against the Pirates.

In the meantime, Hendricks will start for the Cubs Friday and Jeremy Hellickson goes for the Nats. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage Friday will be via NBC Sports Chicago.