The Cubs’ ragged play of late continued on Wednesday against the Braves. This time it was Yu Darvish struggling and putting his team in a hole they couldn’t get out of.
The Braves scored immediately to open the game for the second consecutive night. Ronald Acuña Jr. walked and proceeded to steal second. Addison Russell failed to block Willson Contreras‘ low throw and Acuña advanced to third. Darvish then threw a pitch Contreras couldn’t block, allowing the run to score.
Atlanta tacked on another run in the 2nd when Brian McCann blasted a solo homer to right. Freddie Freeman doubled and Josh Donaldson walked to put two men on in the 3rd inning, then Darvish left a 2-0 pitch in the middle of the plate that Nick Markakis sent to the basket in right-center. Just like that, the road team was up 5-0.
The game was delayed in 4th by a thunderstorm and resumed after about 30 minutes and the Cubs started a comeback against Dallas Keuchel in bottom of the inning. Contreras blasted a long homer to left field to make it 5-1. Kris Bryant followed with his own bomb in the 5th to cut the lead to 5-2.
Contreras tripled in the 6th inning and scored on a Jason Heyward groundout, reducing the lead to two. Both bullpens kept the score there the rest of game. The Cubs had a big chance with two men on base in 8th inning. Russell and pinch-hitter Victor Caratini were retired and the threat fizzled. AJ Minter closed out the 5-3 Braves win in the 9th. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
Darvish struggled early and put the Cubs in an hole they couldn’t dig out of. The offensive struggles, especially with men on base, continue to be an issue for the home team.
The Cubs’ best chance to even the score came in the 8th inning, but the lack of bench depth again reared it’s head at this big moment. Despite his two singles, Russell has not been good and Caratini is a decent hitter, but not the pinch-hit option you want.
Stats That Matter
- Darvish wasn’t horrible, but he again made costly mistakes, two of which ended up as home runs. At this point, it may just be part of the deal.
- Contreras is looking very good right now, slugging and getting on base at a high rate the last few games.
- Bryant was getting it done on both sides of the ball with a couple terrific defensive plays and three hits.
The Cubs have failed to take advantage of the Brewers’ 3-9 stretch and remain just a game up in the division. They just don’t look good right now and they need to snap out of it soon.