Marcus Stroman had his second straight rough outing for the Cubs as he allowed four runs in the 1st inning and that was all the Rays would have needed in order to win the game. The Cubs once looked like they might stage a comeback after getting it to 5-2 thanks to an RBI double by Frank Schwindel and then an RBI groundout by Nick Madrigal (his first RBI of the season), but that’s where their offense ended.
Stroman seemed to have righted himself for a few innings, then went back to struggling in the top of the 5th after Jonathan Villar allowed the first batter to reach base on an error. A strikeout of Ji-Man Choi was followed by a Josh Lowe triple and then Francisco Mejia doubled to make it 7-2. Daniel Norris entered and allowed one more run to put the game out of reach.
It’s entirely possible that things would have been different had the game gone the full nine innings, but this was a game nearly everyone knew would have to be won early. The start time was moved up 70 minutes due to the forecast, then the Rays rained down runs right out of the gate to take the series. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
Stroman was very, very off for the second straight start. His command was spotty as he managed to throw first-pitch strikes just 50% of the time. Seven of the eight hits he allowed were inside the first three pitches of an at-bat, meaning that he was also having trouble commanding pitches even when he did find the strike zone. He put the Cubs in a hole they couldn’t overcome.
The defense didn’t help him out much as they made three errors in the short affair. Villar has looked a bit rough on defense since his first start this season and this was a game in which the Cubs couldn’t afford mistakes.
While a comeback seemed unlikely anyway given that the game was always expected to be rain-shortened, Villar’s errant toss to kick off the 5th inning was the final straw for Stroman and the Cubs.
Stats That Matter
- Seiya Suzuki‘s on-base streak remains intact as he walked once even while going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. He’s reached base in every single game this season.
- Stroman managed to last just 4.1 innings while allowing seven earned runs on eight hits and two walks. He did strike out seven batters, but his outing marked the eighth straight time a Cubs starter couldn’t last five full innings.
- Norris pitched 1.2 innings in relief, allowing one hit and striking out three. He did allow an inherited runner to score, but it was still easily his best outing of the season.
- Mejia had himself a night, going 2-for-3 with a homer, a double, and three RBI.
It’s a bit concerning that the starting staff is almost to a man performing worse the more often they pitch, with the one exception being Drew Smyly. Stroman was seemingly brought in to be a steadying force on a shaky rotation, but he’s needing some steadying himself these days.
The Cubs will host the Pirates on Thursday night in a 6:40pm CT start that will be carried by Marquee Sports Network and 670 The Score. Mark Leiter (0-1, 18.90) will get his second start as a Cub and will be going up against Bryse Wilson (0-0, 5.40)