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Astros 7, Cubs 6: (Expletive deleted)

I have more expletives that could have gone here, too.

Sorry. No Cubs player deserves to be featured here today
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Friends, I have watched a lot of Chicago Cubs baseball.

Between games I’ve personally attended and games watched on TV, I estimate I’ve probably seen somewhere around 8,000 Cubs games over the last 60 years, maybe more.

Over the course of time Cubs baseball has elated me, confused me, disappointed me, made me sad and eventually made me happy that I’d spent so much time watching these games when the team won the World Series in 2016.

But before Wednesday night, I don’t think I had ever watched a game that really pissed me off.

Yes, the Cubs’ 7-6 loss to the Astros made me angry. You’re telling me this team doesn’t have any relief pitchers who can get six outs without giving up six runs? Or three outs without giving up four?

Guess not, because no matter what David Ross tried, it didn’t work. Two generally reliable relievers, Mark Leiter Jr. and Keegan Thompson, got hit hard. So did Brandon Hughes, who allowed a game-winning two-run single to Kyle Tucker, and believe me when I tell you that I turned the TV off before the winning run even crossed the plate.

Sigh. What’s the most recent horrific loss you can remember before this one? That game in 2021 where they scored seven in the first inning in Milwaukee, only to give up 15? Any of the games in that nine-game losing streak that took the Cubs out of what appeared to be a safe wild-card berth in 2019?

No matter. This one’s going to stick in the proverbial craw for a long, long time. Maybe they’ll figure out the bullpen woes and win some games coming up — they’re about to play two teams (Phillies, Mets) who are struggling just about as badly as the Cubs have been recently. The Cubs are now 2-9 in one-run games and that’s the primary reason they sit five games under .500 at this moment.

Sigh, again. This recap was going to be a celebration of yet another outstanding outing from Drew Smyly, who allowed just four hits and one run, with no walks and eight strikeouts. Here are the eight K’s [VIDEO].

Since starting the year on a rough note, over his last eight starts Smyly has a 1.97 ERA and 0.788 WHIP and just eight walks in 45⅔ innings. Heck, he only threw 84 pitches Wednesday night. With the bullpen in shambles, maybe David Ross should have let him throw another inning, maybe two. Here are the numbers behind Smyly’s outing [VIDEO].

This loss also ruined perhaps the best game of Seiya Suzuki’s MLB career. The Cubs right fielder hit two home runs, walked twice and singled. Here are the home runs [VIDEO].

With his big day, Suzuki raised his OPS by almost 100 points, from .769 to .862, and he’s now got a .372 OBP. He’s now fourth on the team in walks despite missing the first 11 games of the season. It was Suzuki’s second career two-homer game. The other one was his fourth career game, April 12, 2022 at Pittsburgh, when his two solo homers were the difference in a 2-1 win. Drew Smyly started that game, too.

The two homers also gave Suzuki home runs in three consecutive plate appearances dating to Tuesday. He’s the first Japanese-born player to do that in MLB.

The blown lead also ruined this monster home run by Christopher Morel [VIDEO].

That’s the hit that gave the Cubs a 6-1 lead — with five innings to go. As for Morel (via BCB’s JohnW53):

Christopher Morel has hit five home runs in his first eight games of the season. The only Cub who ever hit more in his first eight games of any season was Gabby Hartnett, who had six in 1925. Five others hit five: Rogers Hornsby (1931), Randy Jackson (1955), Billy Williams (1964), Dave Kingman (1980) and Shane Andrews (1999).

It should be noted that the Cubs had horrendous years in the last two of those, 98 losses in 1980 and 95 in 1999. Hopefully we’re not headed for one of those.

The other two Cubs runs scored in the first inning, one on this triple by Dansby Swanson [VIDEO].

The other first-inning run was scored by Swanson on this sac fly by Ian Happ [VIDEO].

It was all for naught, though, as explained in these numbers from BCB’s JohnW53:

The Cubs had eight extra-base hits and seven walks at Houston Wednesday night. It was their 49th game since 1901 with at least that many of each. It was just the second that they lost. In the wins, they had outscored their opponents by an average score of 15-6. The only previous defeat was at Montreal, 8-7 in 13 innings, on June 2, 1980. They had won 13 such games since then until this game.

There’s that ugly 1980 season poking its head up again.

That’s all I’ve got at this point, really. The Cubs are simply going to have to do something about the bullpen — it’s been nothing but awful recently. I don’t have specific answers right now, I’m still kinda pissed off at this game. There are guys at Iowa they could use. Maybe start giving Jeremiah Estrada more high-leverage innings. Maybe go make a trade for somebody, anybody, yes, even Aroldis Chapman. The Cubs’ team relief ERA is now 4.46, which ranks 25th in MLB. The relievers have registered 13 of the team’s 24 losses and have five saves — and five blown saves. Just one team has fewer saves — the woeful A’s.

Here is David Ross being master of the obvious:

No kidding, Rossy. Here, you can have one more highlight, one of those defensive plays Ross was talking about, the Cubs throwing out Alex Bregman at the plate in the sixth [VIDEO].

After Thursday’s off day, the Cubs will open a three-game series against the Phillies at Philadelphia. Marcus Stroman will start for the Cubs and Ranger Suarez will go for the Phillies. Game time Friday is 6:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.