I have quoted this baseball truism many times here: “No team is as good as it looks when it’s on a long winning streak, and no team is as bad as it looks when it’s on a long losing streak.”
At least in terms of the 2023 Chicago Cubs, I am beginning to question whether that’s true. I’d like to think this Cubs team is better than yet another 8-5 loss to the Reds, but... man, the way they played on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field has me wondering.
Another early lead? Check. Another starter struggling in the middle innings? Check. More relief failure? Check.
Beyond that, it took three hours and 15 minutes to complete this game, the longest Cubs nine-inning game of the year and just the fourth time this year they’ve played a nine-inning game in three hours or more. Just imagine how long this one would have been without the pitch timer — probably 3:45 or longer. Ugh. There were 360 pitches thrown in this game, more than 100 over the MLB average of about 250 for a nine-inning game, which explains the length. There were 24 hits and 12 walks, seven of the latter issued by Cubs pitchers.
Yuck. Just yuck.
I’ll show you some of the Cubs highlights, that might be fun for a moment.
Drew Smyly got touched up for two runs in the top of the second, but the Cubs got that back and more in the bottom of the inning. Seiya Suzuki led off with a walk, and two outs later Mike Tauchman singled.
That ball was crushed!
⚾Patrick Wisdom! HR (13)— Home Run Report (@homerunreport) May 28, 2023
Go, Cubs, go!
5/28/23 @ CHC, ⬇️ 2nd
vs RHP Graham Ashcraft
112.0 MPH / 21° / 424 ft to LF
Off a 97.2 MPH cutter
▶️It's a home run in 30/30 parks.◀️
See this play in Gameday: https://t.co/2gNIUmKauG pic.twitter.com/2ufPKAFM0V
So, a 3-2 lead. That lasted about five minutes, as a pair of doubles leading off the top of the third for the Reds tied the game. Cincinnati took a 5-3 lead in the fifth, and here’s where I’m opening the complaint department door. Why did David Ross lift Smyly with two on and two out? His pitch count was a bit elevated (92), but surely he could retire Stuart Fairchild... nope, on came Jeremiah Estrada. That sent T.J. Friedl up to pinch-hit and, presto! Two-run double and the Reds had the lead.
Estrada has a good arm, but his last two outings have been just bad. He issued two walks before getting out of the inning. Brandon Hughes then served up a two-run homer to Spencer Steer to make it 7-3, and another run off Michael Rucker made it 8-3 in ithe top of the seventh.
Meanwhile, the Cubs had gotten the first two runners on base in the fourth and stranded them, and loaded the bases with one out in the sixth without scoring.
In the bottom of the eighth, Trey Mancini doubled with one out. One out later, Wisdom did it again [VIDEO].
So, it’s 8-5 and the game is within range, I suppose, though the way Cubs hitters have hit recently... nope.
But, I do want to show you this interesting double play the Cubs turned in the top of the ninth [VIDEO].
Senzel, the lead runner, got caught in a rundown and went back to third base. Yan Gomes, as a fielder should do in a situation like that, tagged both runners. Senzel was entitled to the base, so the trailing runner, Kevin Newman, was out. But then Senzel stepped off the base and Gomes tagged him to end the inning. So that was fun, which was good, because most of this game wasn’t.
I don’t know what else to say. The Cubs have just looked terrible since taking the first two games of the Mets series. This four-game losing streak isn’t very long, but they’ve allowed 35 runs and some of the relievers don’t seem to be able to get anyone out. If I had answers, I’d let the coaching staff know, but I don’t.
The announced crowd of 40,551 was the largest at Wrigley Field since June 18 of last year.
And even after all that, as well as the other results Sunday, the Cubs are still just 5½ games out of first place in the Comedy Central. Despite what I wrote at the top of this recap, this team can’t really be THIS bad, can it? (Please don’t answer the rhetorical question.)
In case you haven’t had enough of the bad, here’s today’s postgame fact from BCB’s JohnW53:
Thursday through Sunday is the just 14th time since 1901 that the Cubs have allowed at least eight runs in four or more consecutive games. The last time, also four games, was September 7-10, 2014: a 10-4 loss at home to the Pirates, then losses by 8-0, 9-2 and 11-1 at Toronto. The Cubs’ only other such streak since 1977 was in 1998. 12 of the 14 streaks were four games.
In 1901, they did it five games in a row: losses at St. Louis, 11-9 and 12-5, and at Cincinnati, 10-9, then at home to the Reds, 8-7 and 9-2.
Their only such six-game streak came in 1930: losses at home to the Giants, 9-4, 9-7 and 14-12. Then there was a 9-8 win and a 10-8 loss at home against the Braves; then a 9-8 loss at St. Louis.
It’s not going to get any easier when the Tampa Bay Rays come to Wrigley to open a three-game series Monday afternoon. Marcus Stroman will start for the Cubs and Taj Bradley will go for the Rays. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.