Chicago Cubs Score and Recap (6/13/24): Rays 3, Cubs 2 – Cubs Bunt, Don’t Hit Dingers in Loss

The Cubs bullpen gave up another lead on Thursday in Tampa and with it dropped yet another series. Justin Steele was victimized by a total lack of support from his teammates this time despite six shutout innings, and any kind of improved play feels miles away.

Steele and Rays starter Taj Bradley were very sharp from the beginning Thursday, giving up nothing through the first four frames. Michael Busch and Nico Hoerner hit back-to-back singles to open the top of the 5th, after which slugger Patrick Wisdom then surprisingly laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners. It wasn’t the prettiest effort, but it got the job done.

Manager Craig Counsell decided his best chance to generate some offense with his stagnant lineup was to keep bunting, so, Pete Crow-Armstrong dropped down a safety squeeze and Busch scored when catcher Alex Jackson mishandled the throw at the plate. Yan Gomes kept the line moving with a third consecutive bunt on three pitches to bring home Hoerner and put the Cubs ahead 2-0.

With Héctor Neris unavailable, it was Mark Leiter Jr.‘s turn to give away the lead for the North Siders when he came on in the 7th inning. An infield single and a walk set up a Josh Lowe RBI knock and then pinch-hitter Ben Rortvedt brought in the tying run on a groundout. Yandy Díaz followed with a flare hit to center field that scored Lowe and gave Tampa a 3-2 advantage they would never relinquish.

The Cubs only got one base runner in the final two innings and went on to lose by the same 3-2 score. (Box score)

Key Moment

Wisdom made a low throw from third on Amed Rosario‘s grounder to open up the 7th inning, but Cody Bellinger could have scooped it at first. He missed it and Rosario advanced to second, eventually scoring during the three-run rally.

Why the Cubs Lost

They had just three singles the entire game and two runs were not enough for the bullpen to hold with its struggles.

Stats That Matter

  • Steele just cannot buy a break this season and deserved much better in this one: 6 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 5 K, and 1 BB.
  • Busch was the only Cub to reach base twice Thursday with a walk and a single.

Bottom Line

Nothing new in this game for the Cubs, who couldn’t score enough runs to provide cushion for a bullpen with issues holding leads. The results aren’t going to change unless something alters that dynamic.

On Deck

The Cubs limp back to Wrigley for three games with the Cardinals starting Friday at 1:20pm CT. Jordan Wicks is back in the rotation against Kyle Gibson with coverage on MLB Network (out of market only), Marquee, and 670 The Score.

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