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Cleveland 2, Cubs 1: Joc Pederson’s three hits are not enough for victory

Willson Contreras added four hits... but the rest of the team did almost nothing.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the numbers that sum up the state of the Chicago Cubs after their 2-1, 10-inning loss to Cleveland Wednesday afternoon:

Granted that a couple of key players are on the injured list. And granted that Kris Bryant did not start this game because he was “under the weather,” and then when KB did get in the game, he had to leave right away after being hit on the hand. Fortunately, that turned out to not be a big deal:

So, hopefully KB will be all right by Friday — this was a really good week for two off days! — and maybe the Cubs get Nico Hoerner back for the weekend series against the Tigers, too.

Because the spring training-style split squad lineup the Cubs put on the field today either got a lot of hits — Joc Pederson and Willson Contreras — or very few at all, essentially the rest of the team.

The Cubs left RISP in the first, second, third, sixth, seventh, ninth and 10th innings, and that includes an inning in which they scored their only run of the game.

Ildemaro Vargas doubled with two out and Pederson doubled him in [VIDEO].

Pederson seems locked in at the plate. Since his return from the injured list he is hitting .444/.484/.481 (12-for-27). You’ll note that the slugging percentage is fairly low for a guy who’s that hot, lower than the OBP. Of the 12 hits, the double today is the only one for extra bases. Jim Deshaies noted on the broadcast that when a guy starts hitting like this, eventually the power will come. Hope so, because the Cubs have now had 40 hits over their last five games — that’s good! — but just eight are for extra bases — that’s not. Seven doubles and a home run is all they have beyond 32 singles, and you can see the RISP issues they’ve had above.

Zach Davies had another good outing, allowing just the tying Cleveland run in the bottom of the sixth before departing with one out in the inning. Over his last three starts, Davies has allowed 14 hits, six walks and three runs (two earned) in 16⅓ innings. That’s a 1.10 ERA and 1.224 WHIP, excellent work that we hope continues.

Justin Steele, Ryan Tepera and Andrew Chafin combined for 3⅔ innings of scoreless relief, allowing just one baserunner among the 12 total batters they faced (a walk by Steele) and striking out five. That’s excellent work, and if the Cubs offense had been able to generate anything with all those baserunners we’d be talking about a win here.

Keegan Thompson was tagged with the loss after issuing a walk with the placed runner on second. This is never going to work out well, because in that situation — bottom of an extra inning, score tied — the runners are going to be bunted along. The bases are then going to be loaded intentionally, and the pitcher involved is going to have to be really good to get out of that jam and Thompson wasn’t.

Of note, Cleveland kept running out there guys who can throw 95+, with their closer Emmanuel Clase topping 100 multiple times. The Cubs could use guys like this.

Overall, though, this loss isn’t on Cubs pitching. It’s the failure to hit with RISP.

Hopefully, that changes this weekend in Detroit. The Cubs have Thursday off and begin a three-game series against the Tigers Friday evening. Jake Arrieta is reportedly going to come off the injured list and make the start Friday, though nothing’s been made official yet. The Tigers do not yet have a starting pitcher listed for Friday’s contest. Game time Friday is 6:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.