The reason I used a photo of Cubs batting helmets sitting upside-down in the dugout for the featured image of this recap is that those helmets might as well have just stayed there, for all the offense the Cubs had in their 11-1 loss to the Twins Saturday afternoon. It was the worst loss of the year for the Cubs by run differential; the previous worst was an 8-2 loss to the Rangers April 9. It was also the first time the Cubs allowed double-digit runs this year.
You knew this wasn’t going to be a good day when the Cubs got the leadoff hitter on base in the second, third and fourth innings and couldn’t score in any of those innings. By the time Seiya Suzuki walked to lead off the fourth, the Cubs were already behind 5-0 because of several long balls given up by Hayden Wesneski in what was actually NOT his worst start of the year (that was this one April 11, when he didn’t get out of the second inning).
Look, guys are going to have outings like that every once in a while, and having one while your opponent is mowing down Cubs hitters might be for the best. Joe Ryan threw six shutout innings and allowed just four hits, striking out 10. It’s going to be hard to win when the other guy is pitching that well. So, a tip o’ the cap to Ryan, who was really good in this game. Even when the Cubs did get baserunners, Ryan prevented runs and the Cubs got too far behind to catch up.
Here is the sequence that produced the only Cubs run of the game. Christopher Morel led off the seventh with a single — the fourth time the Cubs got the leadoff hitter on base. He advanced to second when Eric Hosmer walked. Now I will show you the only Cubs highlight of the afternoon.
Credit to Barnhart, who had two hits, his first multi-hit game since April 9, and just his second on the season.
After the Twins hit yet another homer in the seventh, that one off Brandon Hughes, the Cubs did that baserunner thing in the eighth — got the leadoff hitter on base (a walk by Ian Happ). Suzuki and Matt Mervis walked to load the bases with two out.
Eric Hosmer got himself called out on strikes on a pitch that was... definitely a strike (pitch 6):
Hosmer didn’t like the call by plate umpire Emil Jimenez and argued. David Ross came out to defend his player and that got both of them tossed. Perhaps it was better to watch the end of this game from the clubhouse.
That strikeout made the Cubs 1-for-11 with RISP in this game. They wound up 1-for-12 because again, they got a runner to scoring position in the ninth, when it didn’t mean anything. The one hit was Barnhart’s RBI single.
The Twins put three more on the board in the eighth off Brad Boxberger. Trust me, if you didn’t see it, you don’t want to hear about it. Suffice to say that Michael Fulmer had to clean up the mess by recording the final out of the inning and Boxberger’s ERA is now north of 5 (and higher than Fulmer’s, which is on its way down).
The Cubs did make the Twins bullpen work quite a bit. They wound up drawing five walks off Cole Sands in his two innings of work (seven walks overall in the game). Four Twins pitchers combined to throw 181 pitches, quite a large number for a game your team wins by 10 runs. (By comparison, five Cubs hurlers combined for 163 pitches.)
In some ways it’s easier to shake off a blowout like this than a tough one-run loss, largely because it counts as only one loss in the standings. The Cubs still have a chance to take this series in the rubber game of this three-game set Sunday afternoon at Target Field. Marcus Stroman will start for the Cubs and Louie Varland will go for Minnesota. Game time is again 1:10 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.
Site note: The game preview Sunday will return to its usual time, two hours pregame, or 11 a.m. CT.