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Mariners 5, Cubs 2: Sometimes it’s just not your day

The Cubs didn’t get much offense in this one after last night’s 14-run outburst.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

When the year 2023 is in the books, we might look back at Wednesday as the nicest weather day of the entire year in Chicago — temperatures around 80, a nice breeze, unlimited sunshine, low humidity. We don’t get those very often ‘round these parts, and certainly not in April.

I’m talking about the weather largely because that was the best thing about Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field. Certainly it wasn’t the Cubs baseball, where four Mariners pitchers stymied most Cubs bats, and after Marcus Stroman had a pretty good outing, the bullpen did not have a good day.

The Cubs did take an early lead. Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal, the first two Cubs who batted, both singled. After a force play moved Hoerner to third, he scored on this sacrifice fly by Cody Bellinger [VIDEO].

Stroman got into trouble in the third, and mostly because of walks. He did allow three hits, but a pair of walks helped lead to two Seattle runs.

And after those two first-inning Cubs hits, 14 Cubs went down in order before Miles Mastrobuoni singled with two out in the fifth. In fact, only two other Cubs (a single by Bellinger and walk by Patrick Wisdom in the seventh) reached base through the eighth.

It remained a fairly tight game until Brad Boxberger got touched up for a run in the seventh, and then Julian Merryweather served up back-to-back homers leading off the eighth to Teoscar Hernandez and Jarred Kelenic, and holy moly, did Kelenic’s ball get launched [VIDEO].

483 feet, halfway up the center-field bleachers, one of the longest homers I can remember at Wrigley in recent years — and it set at least one mark, the longest regular-season homer at Wrigley Field in the Statcast Era (since 2015):

Merryweather throws hard, 97-plus, but doesn’t seem to have much movement on his fastball and that can be the result. Yikes.

If not for that inning, Bellinger’s ninth-inning homer might have meant more [VIDEO].

I continue to be encouraged by Bellinger’s performance. That was his first Wrigley homer as a Cub, and he had two hits and the sac fly on the afternoon. After starting the season 0-for-11, over his last eight games Bellinger is batting .323/.371/.548 (10-for-31) with a double and two homers — those are very good numbers. Sustainable for an entire season? Maybe not, but you can see some of the form that made Bellinger MVP in 2019. Here’s hoping it continues.

Meanwhile, the Cubs really need to do some soul-searching about the bullpen. Again, I’d consider jettisoning Merryweather and replacing him, maybe with Cam Sanders, maybe with Rowan Wick, someone else. There’s a reason the Blue Jays let Merryweather go so easily.

Good news: Dansby Swanson should be back in the lineup Friday:

That’s really it for this one — sometimes the other guy is just better. Logan Gilbert appears to be a really good pitcher, credit to the Mariners for that. Still, the Cubs won two of three from two pretty good A.L. West teams in this homestand and I think that’s a good sign for this year.

They’ll get a real test this weekend when they face the Dodgers in a three-game series at Dodger Stadium beginning Friday night. Justin Steele will go for the Cubs in the series opener. Noah Syndergaard will start for the Dodgers. Game time Friday is 9:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.