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Dodgers 6, Cubs 2: Back to the drawing board

The Cubs got really good relief pitching Thursday night... until they didn’t.

Al Yellon

The ominous-looking sky depicted above appeared over Wrigley Field as storms skirted the area and never really rained on the ballpark, just a few minutes of a light shower.

That sky is a good representation of how we all felt when Michael Fulmer blew up in the ninth inning, serving up a grand slam to James Outman, his second homer of the game. The slam was the difference in a 6-2 Cubs loss to the Dodgers that ended the team’s four-game winning streak.

Until that ninth inning, the Cubs and Dodgers had pretty much matched everything all evening at Wrigley. Javier Assad didn’t throw that well or that long, but from the fourth to the eighth inning, Cubs relievers Adbert Alzolay, Brandon Hughes, Michael Rucker and Brad Boxberger combined for five shutout innings, allowing three hits and two walks and striking out six.

Meanwhile, Dodgers starter Michael Grove had to leave the game in the fourth due to injury, so it became a bullpen game for both sides.

Assad served up a pair of solo homers in his three innings of work. Cody Bellinger matched one of those in the second [VIDEO].

Bellinger’s homer went a long way [VIDEO].

For those who don’t want to watch the whole video:

The Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the fourth. Eric Hosmer led off with a walk and went to third on a double by Trey Mancini. Nico Hoerner’s single scored Hosmer [VIDEO].

Unfortunately, Mancini tried to score, which wasn’t a good idea. He was thrown out easily.

The Cubs had just three other baserunners the rest of the game. Dansby Swanson followed Hoerner’s single with a walk, but both were stranded. No other Cubs reached until the eighth, when Seiya Suzuki led off with a walk and Bellinger was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Unfortunately, Patrick Wisdom then hit into a double play, ending the threat.

That double play was started by Mookie Betts, playing his first-ever MLB game at shortstop [VIDEO].

Betts had been drafted as an infielder, but had not played at shortstop at all in 10 years, since one game in the 2013 Arizona Fall League. He’s being pressed into service there due to several Dodgers injuries.

Anyway, the game went to the ninth tied 2-2 and Fulmer was called on and oh, man, was he bad. Two singles began the inning and after a deep fly to second, Jason Heyward was sent up to pinch-hit. How many times did we see Heyward ground a ball toward second in a situation like that? Instead, Fulmer walked him and Fulmer was having trouble throwing strikes to Outman. Then he put a cutter right down the middle of the plate and Outman hit the ball out of the yard.

So the Cubs have now lost two of their last seven games, both to the Dodgers, and Fulmer was responsible for both those losses. Maybe don’t pitch him against L.A. again?

Well, yeah. At this point Fulmer’s got to be taken out of high-leverage situations, “pretty damn quick.”

About the weather, the game was delayed an hour and four minutes but honestly they could have started on time. Storms to the north and south left the North Side of Chicago more or less dry as they skirted around the ballpark — it rained for only about five minutes around 7 p.m. as the grounds crew was preparing the field. It was after that little shower passed through the area that the cool-looking mammatus clouds shown above appeared over the ballpark. Here’s another view:

Al Yellon

Lastly, regarding the injury to Jameson Taillon: The Cubs have an off day next week (Monday). That could give them the opportunity to skip Taillon’s next turn. According to this Tribune article, the Cubs think Taillon will be available “soon” after he’s eligible to return. If the Cubs skip Taillon’s next turn, the next time they’d need a fifth starter would be Sunday, April 30 against the Marlins in Miami, so they’d need a callup for that (maybe Caleb Kilian?), but Taillon could probably return to the rotation after that.

That’s pretty much it for this one, and fortunately baseball is an everyday game and the Cubs don’t have to wait too long to even up this series, with an afternoon game at 1:20 p.m. CT Friday. In a rematch of last Sunday’s game at Dodger Stadium, lefthanders Drew Smyly and Julio Urias will be the starters Friday afternoon. TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network and also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Dodgers market territories).