Give the Cubs credit, they came back from a 5-0 first-inning deficit and made things close, but fell short and lost for the second straight day by one run.
The way I want to sum up the Cubs’ 7-6 loss to the Marlins is with three facts:
- The Cubs twice had the bases loaded with nobody out in this game and scored a total of one run out of all that, and that was in part because
- Eric Hosmer decided to tag up and run to third on a short fly to left because... why? And...
- David Ross wasted THREE players on a pinch-hitting appearance in the sixth inning.
Whew, that was some bad display of baseball by the Chicago Cubs for most of Saturday afternoon in Miami, though they did some nice work in making the game close.
It began with a horrific first inning for Caleb Kilian, and I will spare you the details of the carnage, only that it wound up with 36 pitches, two hit batters, a wild pitch, a pair of walks and five Marlins runs. That might have been one of the worst innings I’ve seen a Cubs starter put together in many, many years, if not ever.
It looked like this might become a bullpen game, but Kilian was left in until one out in the third and 88 total pitches, and truth be told, he did look a bit better in the second and third. The last of the seven runs charged to Kilian scored after he left the game, on Jeremiah Estrada’s second pitch, an RBI single that wound up being the difference in the game.
This is likely a one-off for Kilian; it’s been said Jameson Taillon might be able to come back next week, and Kilian’s probably headed back to Iowa after the game for a relief pitcher. I’m not sure what happened to the talent Kilian showed in the 2021 Arizona Fall League, but it was not in evidence in this game.
The Cubs got two of the runs back on a long two-run homer by Patrick Wisdom in the second inning [VIDEO].
Did I say that went a long way? Yes, I did! [VIDEO]
Again, if you don’t want to watch the cool animation:
Then the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out in the third, as previously mentioned, on three straight walks. That one scored zero runs: Seiya Suzuki and Cody Bellinger struck out and Trey Mancini hit into a force play.
Interruption: Suzuki looks lost at the plate. He could use a day off. Hopefully, David Ross will give him one on Sunday and start Nelson Velázquez in right field.
Bellinger made the score 7-3 in the sixth [VIDEO].
That one also went a long way [VIDEO].
And, the still frame:
After Bellinger’s home run, the Cubs again loaded the bases with nobody out, this time on three singles by Trey Mancini, Eric Hosmer (on a challenge where the Cubs got an out call overturned) and Wisdom.
That’s when Ross outsmarted himself, in my view. He wasn’t going to let Tucker Barnhart bat against lefthander Andrew Nardi, so Nick Madrigal was announced as a pinch-hitter. Marlins manager Skip Schumaker called on righty Huascar Brazoban, so Ross switched to Edwin Rios.
Now, Rios hasn’t played in a week and with Barnhart out, Yan Gomes is going to have to come into the game. Why not just bat Gomes there? This reflexive “gotta have the platoon advantage at all times” thing managers often do can be carried to extremes.
Rios laced a couple of long foul balls, then struck out.
Nico Hoerner was the next hitter, and he plated a run with a sacrifice fly. That made it 7-4. But Eric Hosmer, what on Earth were you thinking with two out? He tagged and took off for third and was an easy third out. Dansby Swanson was the next hitter — maybe another run could have scored? Yeesh.
Unfortunately, there’s no video available of all of that from the highlights package, so I can’t show it to you.
The Cubs loaded the bases yet again in the eighth, this time with one out. Velázquez pinch-hit for Hosmer during this sequence and hit into a force play. Then Gomes hit a potential double-play ball to deep short — but the Marlins got no outs at all on the play and a run scored to make it 7-5. Nico Hoerner then grounded to the right side and another run scored to make it 7-6. Unfortunately, with the tying and lead runs in scoring position, Swanson popped up to end the inning [VIDEO].
The Cubs bullpen did a good job in this game, throwing 4⅔ shutout innings, allowing two hits, two walks and striking out seven. And give Cubs hitters some credit for coming back from that early five-run deficit, but unfortunately, the Cubs went 2-for-11 with RISP, leaving nine runners on base, and that essentially was the difference.
Not-so-fun fact about this game, from BCB’s JohnW53:
Edward Cabrera today became the first pitcher ever to start against the Cubs and strike out 12 batters despite exiting after five or fewer innings. Four pitchers had previously struck out 11 Cubs in five innings or less: Sid Fernandez of the Mets (1986), Carlos Rodon of the White Sox (2017 and 2021) and Joe Ryan of the Twins (2021). Rodon pitched four innings; the others, five. Julio Urias of the Dodgers notched 12 in 5⅓ innings at Wrigley Field on June 26, 2021.
The strikeouts are eventually going to kill this team. They’re going to have to cut down on them.
The Cubs will try to salvage the final game of this series Sunday... well, afternoon in Miami, morning in Chicago. Game time is 11:05 a.m. CT. Justin Steele, who’s been the Cubs’ best starter all year, will try to end this month with a win, and Bryan Hoeing will start for Miami. TV coverage Sunday will be via Peacock (how to watch).
SITE NOTE: The game preview for Sunday’s game will post here at 9:30 a.m. CT.