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Pirates 18, Cubs 5: DON’T PANIC!

I watched this game so you didn’t have to.

There is nothing that sums up this ridiculous game better than a photo of Brad Brach hitting an RBI single, his first big-league hit
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs’ 18-5 loss to the Pirates was their worst of the year so far, most runs allowed, worst run differential, so I decided to look through club history and see when was the last time the Cubs had a game as bad as this one.

Turns out it was less than a year ago, and by the same score: an 18-5 loss to the Cardinals, July 20, 2018 at Wrigley Field.

And there’s really no better way to sum this one up than the way I led that recap, so I’m reposting it here:

Lefty O’Doul was a major-league outfielder for 11 seasons, in the 1920s and 1930s. After that he went on to a long career managing in the Pacific Coast League, then an important minor league with a degree of independence from the big leagues.

In 1956, at age 59, with roster rules much more casual than they are now, he put himself into a game as a pinch-hitter, and promptly boomed a triple over the heads of the outfielders. As to how he did that, he said:

“A triple. Fifty-nine years old. How about that?” O’Doul later enthused to baseball historian Lawrence Ritter. “Right there — 40 years too late — I learned the secret of successful hitting. It consists of two things. The first is clean living, and the second is to bat against a pitcher who’s laughing so hard that he can hardly throw the ball.”

That’s really all you can do about this one, laugh. I mean, I could tell you how bad Adbert Alzolay was, but that probably doesn’t reflect his actual abilities. Tipping his pitches, maybe? Or I could tell you how a fly ball hit by Kyle Schwarber with two out in the fourth inning nearly tied the game, only it landed foul, and not by much. Schwarber eventually walked, but the Cubs scored no more runs in that inning and left it trailing 7-4, and it was all downhill from there.

Here, you can look at Brad Brach’s first MLB hit [VIDEO].

He drove in a run with that hit, too, which is only two fewer runs than he allowed with his pitching.

It just got silly after that. Every time I looked, another Pirate was crossing the plate. Josh Bell of the Pirates hit three home runs. It was the first three-homer game against the Cubs since Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals did it... in that 18-5 game last year. It was the 30th three-homer game against the Cubs in franchise history. If you care, here’s the entire list.

The Cubs pitcher who gave up the fewest runs in this game (“only” two) was... Daniel Descalso, which should tell you all you need to know about it. Oh, heck, here’s more on Descalso pitching:

Who’s the next Cub position player you’d like to see pitch? Schwarber? Willson Contreras? Those would certainly amuse. Here’s even more:

No, I don’t know how that compares to other teams, but it’s about what you’d probably expect. Actually, it would be a lot worse if you didn’t include the four appearances and five scoreless innings thrown by Doug Dascenzo in 1990 and 1991. Take those out and the ERA jumps to 10.13. Fun times!

Anyway, Craig Kimbrel then came in to throw the eighth inning. This was a good idea on its face; Kimbrel last threw on Thursday and likely needed the work. But you know how things often go when closers come into games with a lopsided lead, or a lopsided deficit, and this game was no exception. Kimbrel allowed a double and two homers and came out of the game with a 13.50 ERA, which also doesn’t show his true ability. He struck out two, and threw 12 strikes in 19 pitches, which is good but now you’ve got to wonder about his availability for Tuesday’s game.

Oh, I almost forgot. Javier Baez hit his 21st early in this game [VIDEO], when the score was “only” 4-0 Pirates.

So, yay?

The Brewers defeated the Reds 8-6 Monday, so the Cubs fell a game out of first place. I’m not concerned, as there are still 77 games remaining, but they are going to have to, have to, play better in road games. Since May 28 the Cubs are 4-13 away from Wrigley Field and that’s not going to cut it for a team aiming for the postseason.

I do have a fun announcement for you. This recap is posting at 8 a.m. CT. One hour from now, Cubs TV play-by-play announcer Len Kasper is going to stop by to answer your questions and help talk you off the ledge you might be on after Monday’s loss. He’ll stick around for an hour or so in a separate post that will go up at 9 a.m. CT for your questions and Len’s answers. Please be respectful, as Len is being generous of his time for all of us.

The Cubs will try to even up the series Tuesday evening. Kyle Hendricks is expected to be activated from the injured list to start. I’d expect Rowan Wick, who appeared in his second straight game Monday, to head back to Iowa, or perhaps Alzolay will be sent back so he can pitch in the Futures Game and then get more work in the Triple-A rotation. Joe Musgrove will get the call for the Pirates. Game time again is 6:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will again be via NBC Sports Chicago.

And again, remember: