Everyone knew Thursday’s matchup was going to be a tough one, even with Marcus Stroman back on the bump after taking a COVID vacation. The Cubs were up against Zac Gallen, who may be the best pitcher in baseball to this point in the season, for the second time in a week. The righty showed why in this one, tossing five innings of one-run ball to earn the W.
Stroman looked good for the most part, striking out six with no walks in five innings of his own, but he ran into trouble in the 4th inning. A leadoff homer from Daulton Varsho, son of Cubs legend Gary Varsho and namesake of Phillies great Darren Daulton, opened the scoring. Then came a series of singles and a bad throw from Seiya Suzuki to push the score to 3-0.
That’s all Arizona would need, as the Cubs managed just a single tally when a Yan Gomes double drove in Willson Contreras in the bottom of that same inning. Gallen was running on fumes in the 5th and nearly surrendered the lead when he loaded the bases by walking a pair of batters and hitting Contreras. Ian Happ then battled through a 10-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off seven balls, but a grounder ended the threat.
Nothing much happened for either team after that and the Cubs laid down pretty silently for the last few frames. We’ve almost reached the point at which disappointment is no longer the right word for it because expectations aren’t high enough for the team to fall short of them. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
Gallen is really good and it was going to take something big for the Cubs to get over on him. That could have happened in the 5th, but luck ran out for the home team.
Happ’s AB had a charge to it even before he started fouling everything off. You know, Ron, you feel like that could have been a turning point. Just listen to these fans. Even something as otherwise mundane as a bloop single could have tied the score, but Happ’s valiant effort came up short and the game was effectively over at that point.
Stats That Matter
- Stroman was pretty sharp, especially in light of the layoff: 5 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 6 K, 0 BB
- Scott Effross was dominant yet again, striking out three and issuing a very questionable walk
- Brandon Hughes got two more strikeouts and walked none
- Yan Gomes had two of the Cubs’ four hits, but no one in the top six of the order had a hit
The Cubs drew only four walks against eight strikeouts and really didn’t look like they were going to get anything done unless the D-backs goofed up. As good as Contreras has been, there really aren’t any scary hitters in this lineup and it’s hard to see them rallying when they get down late.
These two teams square off again Friday at 1:20pm CT, but the real hype is being reserved for the pregame festivities. That’s because the Cubs will unveil a Fergie Jenkins statue in Gallagher Way, with live coverage on Marquee Sports Network at 11:30am CT. The game will follow on Marquee and 670 The Score as Kyle Hendricks squares off against Humberto Castellanos.