There is a country music song titled “Gone” that they play at Sloan Park in Mesa whenever a Cubs player hits a spring training home run.
The chorus goes:
Gone like a freight-train, gone like yesterday
Gone like a soldier in the civil war, bang bang
Gone like a ‘59 Cadillac
Like all them good things that ain’t never coming back
Right now, what feels like it “ain’t never coming back” is the Cubs winning another baseball game, as they blew yet another lead — third game in a row — and lost to the Reds 3-2, their eighth consecutive defeat.
Same old song? Yeah, the early lead, then one bad pitch in one bad inning and the Cubs simply could not score runners. They went 0-for-9 with RISP and left nine men on base. Plenty of opportunities, to be sure, no action.
In the second inning, Rafael Ortega doubled with one out and went to third on a groundout by Adbert Alzolay.
Tyler Mahle’s pitch that got away from Tyler Stephenson was originally ruled a wild pitch, then changed to a passed ball; regardless, a run scored giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
Kris Bryant made it 2-0 in the third [VIDEO].
For KB, that was his 16th of the year, one of three hits he had on the afternoon.
Alzolay was dealing all the way, striking out lots of Reds and having a very low pitch count. It was probably his most efficient outing of the entire season.
But he made one mistake in the fourth (homer by Joey Votto) and another in the fifth (homer by Tyler Naquin, way too many Tylers on that team) and the game was tied.
With a low pitch count, David Ross let Alzolay start the seventh. This decision, I agreed with. Adbert had thrown only 69 pitches through six innings — sometimes, we have seen Cubs starters have that many in the third or fourth this year. Apart from the homers, both solo jobs, he was dominant.
But then he walked Votto leading off the seventh. Uh-oh, first walk of the game. A double by Stephenson moved Votto to third. One out later, Kyle Farmer singled in a pair of runs, and while Alzolay did get out of the inning, that was that.
Seven innings, five hits, one walk, three runs, six strikeouts. That’s pretty good, a Game Score of 60. A team that has a starting pitcher do that should win the majority of the time.
That is, except when you have a moribund offense like the Cubs’. The Reds came into this series with the worst bullpen ERA in baseball but their relievers all looked like Craig Kimbrel to Cubs hitters.
I did want to point out a truly horrendous missed call by plate umpire Nestor Ceja on Patrick Wisdom leading off the ninth:
Pitch 7 was ball four. You know that and I know that and Wisdom knew that, because he started to take off his shin guard and walk to first base. But Ceja called it strike three.
The ball-and-strike calls weren’t as egregiously bad in this game as they were Friday night with Jim Wolf, but as JD said on the broadcast, Ceja missed some calls in critical situations in this game.
Eric Sogard followed that by beating out a comebacker that went off Heath Hembree’s glove. Now, if Wisdom is on first base that’s a potential double-play ball, but we don’t know if Sogard would have gotten the same pitch selection with a runner on first.
This alone didn’t cost the Cubs the game, but it was just one more example of all the things that seem to be going against the Cubs these days.
They’re now a long way out of first place and I’m not going to bother keeping track of that here until and unless they can end this streak and move back up. The loss dropped the Cubs into third place in the NL Central, half a game behind the Reds.
All of you are going to want to start talking trades and feel free, go ahead, not gonna stop you. Personally, I think Jed Hoyer’s going to wait until the Cubs can play the upcoming seven-game homestand against the Phillies and Cardinals and then evaluate things over the All-Star break before deciding which direction to take. I’ll have more to say about how I feel about this season and what I think the Cubs should do at that point.
In the meantime, the Cubs have a decent chance of ending this losing streak and at least going home on a winning note, with Kyle Hendricks starting Sunday’s game. Wade MIley is scheduled to go for the Reds. Game time Sunday is 12:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network. Site note: Sunday’s game preview will post at 10:30 a.m. CT.