Not one word, you hear? Not. One. Word.
I do not want to hear one single word this morning about the trade that sent Eloy Jimenez, among others, to the White Sox two years ago for Jose Quintana.
Because no, two years ago you did not know that Jimenez would hit a two-run homer at Wrigley Field to defeat the Cubs 3-1 in the very first game he played against the team that originally signed him.
The guy has talent. Stipulation granted. I am much more concerned today about two other things:
- Why could the Cubs not score more than one run off a guy who had posted a 6.27 ERA and allowed seven home runs in 33 innings in his six starts previous to this one?
- What on Earth is wrong with Pedro Strop?
All right, now let’s go back to the beginning of this one.
Cole Hamels had a shaky first inning, loading the bases on two singles and a walk, but got out of it with a double play.
And then Kyle Schwarber put the Cubs up 1-0 on the first pitch he saw from Ivan Nova [VIDEO].
How fast did that ball go out? Look at the video — NBC Sports Chicago’s scorebox was still beginning its scroll across the screen when the pitch was being thrown.
Well, that’s good, I thought, this will be a good night for the offense. (Hint: It wasn’t.)
Hamels, though, settled down. From the second through the fifth innings he retired 12 of 13 hitters and looked strong. One of those outs was a milestone [VIDEO].
Hamels’ 2,500th career strikeout got him into a rather exclusive club:
Randy Johnson— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 19, 2019
And that’s when I learned that Hamels’ full given name is “Colbert.”
Anyway, “Colbert” got dinged up for a run in the sixth thanks to a throw that Javier Baez probably shouldn’t have made. It came with a runner on second and Javy had made a diving stop on a grounder by Tim Anderson. His throw went by Anthony Rizzo and Anderson scored. It might have been more, except for a batter-interference call on Jose Abreu, who struck out as Anderson was trying to steal second. Anderson was also ruled out, which was good, because James McCann followed with a hit.
The Cubs were stifled by Nova, though. After Schwarber’s homer, only one runner got past first base off Nova. Rizzo reached second after a force play on a two-out single by Jason Heyward in the fourth, but both were stranded.
The Cubs had another chance in the sixth when Heyward singled Baez to third with two out, but Victor Caratini struck out to end that threat.
Hamels came out for the seventh, which was a bit surprising, since he’d thrown 93 pitches through six. But he went through the bottom of the Sox order 1-2-3, another very strong outing for him. June for Hamels to date: four starts, 29 innings, 0.31 ERA, 0.793 WHIP, 31 strikeouts. The run he allowed ended this streak:
Cole Hamels' scoreless innings streak ends at 22 and his streak of innings with zero earned runs ends at 28. White Sox get a run in the 6th with the help of a Baez throwing error, but subsequent hits turned the run earned.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 19, 2019
The Cubs simply could not do anything off the Sox bullpen. Aaron Bummer threw a second relief inning and looked better than he had in the first one, striking out Carlos Gonzalez and Albert Almora Jr. Speaking of CarGo, he has been pretty much “no go” since the first game he played in a Cubs uniform, where he made a sparkling catch that might have saved the game. Overall as a Cub: .194/.297/.355 (6-for-31) with 14 strikeouts. It’s becoming quite evident why the Indians let him go. Perhaps it’s worth continuing this experiment for a bit longer, but if he keeps hitting this way, I think the Cubs have to try something else. It was worth a shot.
Brandon Kintzler worked a quick 1-2-3 eighth, but the Cubs could not score in the bottom of the inning.
Then came the disastrous ninth. Strop allowed a sharp single to McCann and then Jimenez hit his homer on a 93 mile per hour fastball.
Strop since returning from the injured list: four innings, three hits, two walks (1.250 WHIP), five strikeouts, two home runs. This is just not good. I have to wonder if his hamstring is still bothering him. The pitch that was hit for the home run was Strop’s top velocity on the evening in 13 pitches, and Tim Collins had to finish the inning. Sox closer Alex Colome retired the Cubs 1-2-3 on three fly balls to end things.
Good news from Tuesday evening: The Brewers also lost, for the second straight night, to the Padres. And in that game, the Cubs got an indirect assist from Craig Kimbrel, who was quite efficient Tuesday in his first outing in a Cubs organization uniform (1-2-3 inning for Triple-A Iowa, eight pitches). How so, you ask? Logan Allen, who threw seven shutout innings for San Diego against Milwaukee in his major-league debut, was one of four minor leaguers the Padres received in November 2015 when they traded Kimbrel to the Red Sox.
This game clearly pointed out the need for Kimbrel, to be sure, but more importantly, it pointed out the need for the Cubs to generate more offense. They have scored just 11 runs combined over their last five games, not more than three in any one of those five. Score more runs and the Jimenez home run wouldn’t have mattered. Also:
#Cubs: first time with a leadoff home run on the first pitch then no other runs in the game since May 1, 2018 (HR by Rizzo) in 3-1 loss vs Rockies— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) June 19, 2019
And one last thing about Eloy’s home run:
Eloy said it was the first time he's broke a bat while hitting a home run.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) June 19, 2019
Anyway, since the Brewers lost the Cubs still trail in the N.L. Central by just half a game. They’ll try it again against the Sox — weather permitting — at 7:05 p.m. tonight (but stay tuned in case the Cubs decide to move the game time up half an hour, as they have done twice already this year, to try to beat the rain). It doesn’t get any easier, with Jon Lester going for the Cubs against one of the hottest pitchers in baseball, Lucas Giolito. TV coverage Wednesday will be via ABC7 Chicago. The Sox broadcast will be on NBC Sports Chicago.