That was not good, no, not good at all.
Besides the fact that the Cubs lost to the Pirates 5-1 and the Brewers beat the Cardinals Monday night, leaving various clinching numbers exactly where they were before the night’s action began, the Cubs are simply not going to go far in October if the only way they can put runs on the board is by solo home runs from their starting pitcher.
And that ball was positively crushed!
Fun fact about Cole’s homer, his first since 2012:
Cole Hamels joins Milt Pappas, Burt Hooton, Ken Holtzman, Don Cardwell & Jim Maloney as pitchers to throw a no-hitter & homer at Wrigley Field (not necessarily in the same game)— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 25, 2018
Unfortunately, at that time it simply cut the deficit in half, because after getting the first two outs quickly in the first inning, Hamels allowed a single to Josh Bell and then Francisco Cervelli absolutely demolished a baseball:
#pirates Francisco Cervelli with a bomb to Waveland Avenue off the roof of illegally parked vehicle . Only the 4th game home run to reach the street in 2018 . #noparking #cubs #wrigley @CarrieMuskat @pirates @cubs pic.twitter.com/YSuxr0geSf— BALLHAWK.NET (@Super_Dave) September 25, 2018
The ball made a very loud sound when it hit the roof of that vehicle, which was likely a Chicago Police Department unmarked SUV.
Still, at 2-1 going into the fourth inning, the Cubs’ chances seemed pretty good in thies game. But Jameson Taillon, who is a very good pitcher having a fine year, retired seven straight Cubs after Hamels’ homer. The Cubs did load the bases with two out in the fifth, but Ben Zobrist grounded out to end that threat.
The Pirates added to their lead in the sixth. Cervelli reached on a dribbler that Kris Bryant probably should have just tucked in his proverbial back pocket. Instead, KB threw it away and Cervelli wound up on second, where he scored on a double by Jose Osuna to make it 3-1. And you’re saying, “Who?” Right. Osuna came into the game hitting .205, and ended it at .220 after hitting two doubles off Hamels.
Hamels didn’t throw too badly — six innings, two earned runs, seven strikeouts — but the Cubs offense was simply impotent. They got the first two runners on in the sixth, but Kyle Schwarber hit into a double play, and they had just two baserunners over the last three innings, while the Pirates were adding single runs off Jaime Garcia and Steve Cishek in the seventh, and off Brian Duensing in the ninth. (Note to Cubs management: I do not want to see Duensing anywhere near a postseason roster.)
Going back to the Cubs’ four-game series at PNC Park in August, Monday night was the fifth consecutive game against the Pirates in which the Cubs scored exactly one run, on a solo homer. In order: Ian Happ, Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Schwarber again and Hamels. Not-so-fun fact:
Tonight (Cole Hamels) was the first time the #Cubs scored one run - on a solo HR by the pitcher - since Travis Wood 8/28/2012— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) September 25, 2018
The Cubs lost that game, too.
Don’t know what else to say about this one. The Cubs’ lead in the N.L. Central dropped to 1½ games after the Brewers’ win over the Cardinals, and the magic numbers for clinching a postseason spot (two) and division title (five) remained the same as they were before Monday’s game.
Joe Maddon summed this one up well:
#Cubs Maddon: "Sometimes you run into the wrong guy. Their pitching staff in general has given us a hard time. ... They are good but we've got to do better."— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) September 25, 2018
Tip your cap to Taillon, he’s very good. Cubs pitching is going to have to be that good, probably, the rest of the regular season in order to hold off the division competitors.
The Cubs will try it again Tuesday evening, weather permitting, with Mike Montgomery on the mound against Chris Archer. Game time again is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via WGN, and you can bet the Cubs will wait out rain delays and finish after midnight if they have to in order to avoid having to play a split doubleheader Wednesday.