Chicago Cubs Score and Recap (5/17/23): Astros 7, Cubs 6 – Bullpen Collapses to Seal Sweep

The Cubs entered Wednesday trying to prevent a sweep at the hands of the Astros, and it looked for a while as if they’d do just that. But after getting off to a terrific start, the bullpen melted down in a devastating loss.

Cubs hitters jumped all over Houston starter J.P. France in the top of the 1st inning as leadoff hitter Christopher Morel drew a walk and scored on a triple from Dansby Swanson. After an Ian Happ sacrifice fly, Seiya Suzuki crushed a long solo home run to left field to put the road team up 3-0.

Drew Smyly allowed a solo shot to Alex Bregman in the bottom of the frame but that was all he would give up on Wednesday. Suzuki continued his huge game with another two-run homer off of France in the 3rd inning. Morel added a bomb of his own in the 4th and Chicago led 6-1.

The Cubs failed to build on their lead despite numerous scoring chances, yet they appeared to be rolling to victory until the bottom absolutely fell out in the final two innings. Mark Leiter Jr. gave up a pair of runs in the 8th inning to reduce the lead to 6-3, then things got worse.

Keegan Thompson attempted to get the save and completely imploded, giving up a single, a two-run homer to Jake Meyers, and a four-pitch walk before being yanked. Brandon Hughes took over and didn’t fare much better as he surrendered a two-RBI single to Kyle Tucker to walk it off. (Box score)

Key Moment

The Cubs have had a very difficult time getting any kind of consistent performance from anyone in their bullpen. Thompson was the latest to flop in a high-leverage situation and it’s a big problem at this point.

Why the Cubs Lost

They could’ve scored more, but six runs and a very good start should be plenty to win a game. Wednesday was purely a bullpen loss.

Stats That Matter

  • Smyly got robbed of a win: 6 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 8 K, and 0 BB.
  • Suzuki had a perfect night with two walks and a single in addition to his homers.
  • Miles Mastrobuoni drew three free passes and doubled on Wednesday.

Bottom Line

That was an absolute gut-punch defeat for the Cubs after so much went well early in the game, and it’s the kind of result that can turn a losing streak into a tailspin. There are a lot of good things happening for this squad, but the relief corp is all over the place. They will really need to bounce back well before things go totally sideways.

On Deck

Chicago has a day off Thursday before beginning a three-game set with the National League champion Phillies at Citizens Bank Park Friday at 6:05pm CT. Marcus Stroman takes the mound against Ranger Suárez with coverage on Marquee and 670 The Score.

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