Ugly Loss has Cubs Limping into All-star Break

That. Was. Ugly. There’s no way to gloss over the Chicago Cubs (52-34) loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates (45-42) on Friday night. The Pirates jumped on Jake Arrieta (12-4, 2.68 ERA) early, hitting two home runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 3-0 lead.

After scoring a run in the top of the fourth inning, the Cubs managed to tie the game off a Miguel Montero two-run home run in the top of the sixth. Anthony Rizzo then blasted a solo shot in the top of the seventh inning and, what-do-ya-know, the Cubs had the lead.

What happened next can only be described as awful. The Cubs imploded in the bottom of the seventh inning and surrendered the ugliest inning of baseball I’ve seen in a very long time. Errors, walks, stolen bases, poor throws, an inability to turn basic double plays, and the list goes on. The Pirates scored four times to take the lead for good.

The Cubs lose in an ugly way to the Pirates by the score of 8-4 (Box Score…if you dare).

Stats that mattered

  • Jake, oh Jake, where art thou – 6.0IP, 6R, 9H, 1BB, 6Ks, 2HR
  • Bullpen is out of sorts too – 2.0IP, 2R, 1H, 4BB, 1K
  • 1-for-10 with RISP, 9 LOB

Bottom line

In what started as a harmless decent back to earth, the Cubs current losing streak is turning extremely ugly fast. I’ve tried to see the bright side through this recent slide but, after last night, I have to really wonder what the heck is going on. It was amazing to sit and watch that seventh inning last night. Compare that inning to any game the Cubs played in the first two months and it’s hard to believe this is the same team.

At the start of this season, the team chemistry seemed incredible, almost unbelievable. Now it just feels like all of the energy, all the positive vibes, have been violently sucked out of this team. Where are the smiles, the fun, the happy-go-lucky, youthful exuberance? It feels like they’re forcing it.

It’s frustrating for sure, when something that is so difficult (winning) seems so simple that doing it is almost like breathing. And then suddenly, you forget how to do that thing that you made seem so easy. It’s like suddenly forgetting how to walk for a championship marathon runner. How do you explain that? Better yet, how do you fix that?

If you ever wonder why Joe Maddon makes the big bucks, this is why. He has to figure this out, fast and before it gets totally out of control.

Now here’s the positive side of this. The Cubs still have a 7.5 game lead in the NL Central and can stretch that to 9.5 if they win the next two games. If they lose it’s a 5.5 game lead going into the all-star break. If you told me at the start of spring training that the Cubs would lead the division by 5.5 games and be 16 games over .500 at the all-star break, I would’ve taken that in a heartbeat. And so would you, and Joe and Theo and Jed.

The Cubs are right where they need to be. They just need to stop playing inept baseball and everything will be fine.

Next up

Jon Lester (9-4, 2.67 ERA) will attempt to exercise the demons as the Cubs take on the Pirates on Saturday night as 6:15 PM CDT.

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