Cubs Stumble Against Norris and the Braves

I’ll admit, that was one heck of an ugly game. There’s really no way to gloss over it.

Bud Norris pitched perhaps the best game of his not-so-storied career. He held the Chicago Cubs (41-18) to four hits and very little else. He also improved his season ERA from a robust 5.28 to a still-quite-robust 4.75.

The Cubs lone offensive highlight of the night came when Albert Almora doubled to lead off the third inning and ended up scoring on a Dexter Fowler ground out. That cut the lead to 2-1, but it was the closest the Cubs would get, and the only run they got too.

Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.36 ERA) has never pitched very well against the Braves and that became painfully evident in the bottom of the second inning. After Almora’s great grab, Jason dutifully served up back-to-back home runs to¬†Adonis Garcia and Tyler Flowers. That was all the offense the Braves would need.

Cubs drop the game by the score of 5-1 (Box Score) in a forgettable performance.

Stats that mattered

  • Bud Norris pitched the game of his life – 7IP, 0R, 4H, 6Ks
  • Hammel didn’t pitch great, but he pitched good enough to win if the Cubs could’ve scored some runs – 5.2IP, 8H, 4Ks, 2HRs
  • Justin Grimm didn’t help things when he couldn’t get anyone out in the bottom of the eighth inning, surrendering two singles and a walk to load the bases
  • Clayton Richard continues to have issues, giving up a run-scoring single and allowing a sacrifice fly after relieving Grimm

Bottom line

It’s a long season and strange things happen sometimes, that’s a guarantee. This was an ugly loss that the Cubs will, no doubt, put behind them. My biggest concern is seeing the Cubs get shut down by a mediocre pitcher. It’s happened a few times this year and in some cases they’ve managed to break out in the late innings and still get the win. Not so in this one.

The Cubs are an offensive dynamo, but on occasion they get shut down. In those rare instances they need to get better at scratching out and creating runs. If the Cubs can’t figure out how to overcome a hot pitcher in the regular season, they may continue to have difficulty come playoff time.

I realize there’s a faction out there that, understandably so, believes it’s too early to talk playoffs. There’s no reason to avoid the playoff conversation with this team, they can and will make the playoffs. So the mindset needs to be around what’s going to happen when they get there. You can believe that’s what Theo and Jed are focused on.

The Cubs need to try and avoid what happened last year, when they ran into a whole bunch of hot pitchers on the Mets. Hot pitching can kill hot offensive teams that are unable to scratch out runs.

Next up

The Cubs take on the Braves today at 3:10 PM CDT. Jake Arrieta seeks to cure what ailed the Cubs on Friday night.

 

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