The Cubs’ road woes are becoming a serious threat to their postseason chances. After a late-inning meltdown on Friday, it was the same story again Saturday night in Milwaukee. An excellent performance from Jon Lester went for naught and the Brewers walked it off in 10.
Lester and Chase Anderson traded two scoreless innings to start the night before the Cubs struck first in the top of the 3rd inning. Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch and scored when Anthony Rizzo homered to right.
Big Jon protected the 2-0 lead through seven strong innings before getting pulled for Steve Cishek in the 8th. The overused Cishek didn’t have it Saturday, serving up a home run to Ben Gamel and a double to Lorenzo Cain before getting the hook.
New addition Derek Holland came on in a LOOGY role and was able to retire Christian Yelich before being lifted for Tyler Chatwood. The seldom-used righty got Ryan Braun to pop out, but Keston Hiura doubled to score Cain and tie the score at two apiece.
Rowan Wick got the final out of the 8th and got through the 9th, after which Albert Almora Jr. gave the Cubs a 3-2 lead with a solo blast in the 10th. Craig Kimbrel, who is apparently ready to go multiple innings now, allowed the game-tying homer to Yelich and the winning two-run shot to Hiura two batters later. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
The bullpen issues from earlier in the season are back in a big way as a late lead has evaporated each of the last two nights. A lack of offense doesn’t help, but the inability to hold a lead really can demoralize a team.
Using Cishek in the 8th seemed like a very bad idea. Lester was gassed after having the flu this week and asked out of the game, so a reliever was needed. That said, the sidewinder has been used a ton lately and had a bad outing Friday night, so the odds of success weren’t great and he didn’t beat them.
Stats That Matter
- Lester was in total command most of the night: 7 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 5 K, and 3 BB. The fatigue from his illness prevented him from going deeper.
- Contreras had a ball hit his hand on a swinging strikeout, but stayed in the game and had two hits and a run scored.
- Wick looked very good in his 1.1 innings pitched with two strikeouts. Might be worth a longer look.
The Cubs are a mess right now having lost five of six games, three of which were on blown late leads. A 1-4 road trip puts them on the edge of disaster and they have to start winning soon or they might find themselves well behind the Cardinals and Brewers heading to August.