It is a sign of the times for the Chicago Cubs that my first thought when they went down by a run in the fourth inning was: “This lead might as well be 20 runs.”
Sadly, I was correct. After Nico Hoerner lined into a double play to end the sixth inning, the rest of the Cubs went down in order and the result was their fifth loss in a row, 4-2 to the Orioles. It was also Baltimore’s ninth straight win, their longest winning streak since 1999. So there’s that, too.
The Cubs started off this game well. With two out in the first inning, newly-minted All-Star Ian Happ gave the Cubs the lead [VIDEO].
The ball didn’t go real far, but it was far enough for Happ’s ninth home run of the season.
The Cubs extended the lead in the second. Nico Hoerner bounced a ball into the seats down the left-field line for a book-rule double, and Alfonso Rivas singled him in [VIDEO].
Adrian Sampson had thrown well for the first two innings, but got touched up for a run in the third. Cedric Mullins singled with one out, got balked to second and came home on a single by Anthony Santander.
Then the O’s took the lead in the fourth on a two-run homer by Ramon Urias. The Cubs don’t play the Orioles often — not since 2017 — and there are a lot of guys on their team I had not been familiar with until this game. For Urias, though, that was his seventh home run of the season. As a team, that homer put Baltimore one ahead of the Cubs this year, 89 to 88.
The Cubs got Willson Contreras to second base with two out in the third — nothing doing. Patrick Wisdom got to scoring position on second with one out in the fourth, but was stranded. They got a leadoff single from David Bote in the fifth, but Rafael Ortega hit into a double play.
Another chance came in the sixth. Seiya Suzuki dropped a little ground ball toward third and beat the throw, which was wild, sending him to second. Then Seiya stole third.
Then Hoerner hit a ball right at Urias, and Suzuki had taken off on contact. Double play, inning over.
That was it for any sort of Cubs offense. Jorge Mateo homered off Brandon Hughes in the seventh, giving Baltimore a 4-2 lead, and that might as well have been a 30-run lead the way the impotent Cubs offense looked in this game against Jordan Lyles. Baltimore does have a pretty good bullpen and Cionel Perez and Jorge Lopez retired the final six Cubs hitters to end the game.
I was a bit puzzled why David Ross sent P.J. Higgins up to bat for Ortega in the eighth instead of Christopher Morel. There wasn’t any explanation given, but here are Ross’ postgame remarks [VIDEO].
As for Sampson, once again Ross lifted a starter before the sixth inning was over, noting in the video clip that he might have let Sampson finish if not for an error by Patrick Wisdom that started the inning. One of the biggest issues with this year’s Cubs is their inability to have starters go deep into games. Of the 87 Cubs games played thus far, the starting pitcher has gone at least six innings just 19 times. That’s ... not good. Comparison point: The Dodgers, a good team, have done that 39 times in 86 games to date.
I just don’t have a lot more to say about this one, only to note that the Orioles have put together a pretty good team out of a bunch of no-names. The rest of the AL East should take notice.
The weather was nice, so there’s that. And the game was played in front of a large contingent of orange-clad Orioles fans, who made the trip to see their team play their first series at Wrigley in eight years.
The Cubs will go for the series split Wednesday evening at Wrigley Field. Justin Steele, who was activated Tuesday, will start for the Cubs and Spenser Watkins is Baltimore’s scheduled starter. Game time is again 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.