Chicago Cubs Score and Recap (5/21/22): D-Backs 7, Cubs 6 (F/10) – Rare Bullpen Struggles Lead to Loss
The bullpen has been on point for the Cubs all season, but it’s hard for any relief corps to perform at an elite level every single night. It doesn’t help when the offense disappears after putting up early runs, which the Cubs did yet again Saturday afternoon by jumping out to a 4-0 lead and then staying at that mark for seven innings.
Justin Steele was excellent yet again, striking out five batters in the first two innings and ending with nine Ks over five one-hit frames. Brandon Hughes ran into a little trouble, allowing a run on three singles in the 7th, then Scott Effross allowed his first homer to Pavin Smith to lead off the 8th. Though the sidewinder would strike out two of the next three batters, a Ketel Marte single came back to haunt him.
David Robertson came in for Effross and immediately allowed a double and single to knot the score. It would stay that way until the 10th, when a Jake McCarthy single put two men on (don’t forget the Manfred Man) to set up a Daulton Varso Little League homer that put the visitors up by three.
The Cubs rallied in their last turn, starting with an Andrelton Simmons RBI single that helped to atone for his throwing error that allowed Varso to come around. Simmons then stole second and scored on an automatic double by Jonathan Villar, but Seiya Suzuki struck out to end it. (Box score)
Why the Cubs Lost
It’s easy to hang this one on the bullpen, which wasn’t as sharp as what we’ve seen so far this season. But you can’t depend on perfection and expect four runs to win every game, so the offense bears a lot of blame for falling asleep after the 3rd inning.
Gary Varsho‘s kid coming around to score on a double and a poor decision by Simmons sealed the deal in this one. Varsho pounded a Rowan Wick fastball off the right field wall to score two, then he easily made it to second when Simmons airmailed the relay throw to the plate. Seeing that the ball had gotten back to the bricks, Varsho — who plays center when he’s not catching — was able to motor home to score what would eventually be the winning run.
Stats That Matter
- Every member of the Cubs’ starting lineup other than Ildemaro Vargas had a hit
- Frank Schwindel (3) and Patrick Wisdom (8) hit back-to-back jacks to open the scoring in the 2nd
- Effross saw his ERA jump to 2.04, but he now has 23 strikeouts to just two walks
- Four of the six relievers David Ross called for allowed runs
This kind of thing was bound to happen eventually to the bullpen, but it also felt like Ross may have been a little quick to mix and match to generate leverage in certain situations rather than letting guys work through them. Even if all those moves had worked, it feels like this offense is content to let off the gas after establishing an early lead.
The Cubs will try to escape Wrigley with a tie as they wrap up the series behind Wade Miley. They’ll be facing Merill Kelly in a 1:20pm affair that can be seen on Marquee Sports Network and heard on 670 The Score.