Cubs Depleted Bullpen Can’t Hold Off Rockies in Late Night Affair (VIDEO)

The Chicago Cubs (77-44) took a one run lead in the top of the 11th inning and they looked like they would win their 5th game in a row. The Colorado Rockies (59-63) had other plans. The game, which endured a 2:10 rain delay, ran 5 hours and 57 minutes past the originally scheduled start time, well past midnight local time. It felt like one run would be enough for the opposing team to nearly want to surrender and just be done with it.

Aroldis Chapman stepped to the mound in the bottom of the 11th and for the Rockies the real question was ‘why bother’?

After getting one out, Rockies catcher, Nick Hundley hit a single to right field. Next up was the Ryan Raburn and he hammered a hanging slider that Chapman left over the plate. The ball flew to the right field wall and hit just above the 375 mark. Ben Zobrist threw the ball to Javy Baez who, in a desperate attempt to throw out Hundley at the plate, uncorked a throw past Willson Contreras and straight into the Cubs’ bullpen. The throwing error allowed Raburn to score the winning run.

The Rockies pull out the late night affair and beat the Cubs 7-6 (Box Score).

Lost in the night, it seemed, was the outstanding effort by Cubs’ starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks (11-7, 2.16 ERA), who dominated the game for the first 6 innings while giving up one run on four hits. He was at 95 pitches when Joe Maddon decided to pinch hit Miguel Montero for him in the top of the seventh inning with no one on base and one out.

At the time the call didn’t phase me too much but in retrospect it did seem a little early to pull Kyle, particularly with how well he was tossing the biscuit. Add in the fact that Mike Montgomery will get the start on Saturday and I would’ve thought that Joe may have wanted to lean on Kyle a bit more to rest the bullpen. On the other hand, the Cubs were up comfortably, 5-1, and, in any ballpark besides Coors Field, you’d normally feel pretty safe with a late, four-run lead.

Travis Wood came on in the seventh inning and, after a two-out double by Daniel Descalso, the Rockies scored a run on a throwing error by Kris Bryant. The Cubs were still up 5-2 heading into the eighth.

In the bottom of the eighth, Travis Wood got into immediate trouble. He’d surrender a single and a walk before being pulled in favor of Carl Edwards, Jr.. Edwards would give up three runs on a double, a fielder’s choice and a sacrifice fly that was originally ruled out at the plate but overturned on review (it wasn’t even close). And just like that the Cubs lead was gone.

The game headed into extra innings, where Dexter Fowler drove in Willson Contreras to take the lead in the top of the eleventh inning. A sigh of relief, Aroldis Chapman would come on and the Cubs would win their 5th straight, right? Right? Not tonight.

Stats that mattered

  • Kyle Hendricks now leads the league with a 2.16 ERA – 6.0IP, 1R, 4H, 1BB, 3Ks, 1HR
  • The Cubs’ bullpen couldn’t hold down the Rockies – 6R, 7H, 2BB, 4Ks
  • Lost in the shuffle was a great major league debut by Felix Pena – 1.0IP, 0H, 2Ks
  • Kris Bryant is playing red-hot offensively – 3-for-6, 1RBI
  • Addison Russell crushed a monster two-run home run that, at the time, appeared to be enough to put the game away for the Cubs

Bottom line

That was just a weird game. Hendricks was dominating, after a 2+ hour rain delay, and it felt like another methodical win was coming for the Cubs. Instead, the bullpen fell apart, with the exception of the two new guys, Felix Pena and Rob Zastryzny, who were the only relievers who didn’t give up a run.

Add to that, the Cubs gave up two critical runs on throwing errors and you’ve got a real head scratcher. It will go into the annuls as one of those wacky Coors Field games and perhaps that is the lesson in all of this. If things are going smoothly and the game is at Coors Field then just wait a few innings. Something crazy is bound to happen. I was waiting for the ‘crazy’ to be the Cubs scoring double digit runs. That’s not the ‘crazy’ that happened.

Next up

The Cubs will face off against the Rockies, now winners of three in a row, on Saturday at 7:10 PM CT. Mike Montgomery (1-1, 3.12 ERA), a trade deadline acquisition of the Cubs, will get his first start as a Cubs pitcher.

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