Cubs blow 16th save in loss to Giants
Kamil Krzaczynski - USA Today Sports

Cubs blow 16th save in loss to Giants

by - Senior Writer -

CHICAGO - By now, the Chicago Cubs (34-39) and their fans know the drill. Get excellent starting pitching, a lack of offense, and another blown save by the bullpen, which takes a potential win away from this team. Well, two of those three things came true at Wrigley Field on Monday as the Cubs again wasted another fine starting pitching performance with another blown save.

This time, it came against the San Francisco Giants (36-37), who found themselves down not once but twice in the ball only to deliver a game-winning three-run shot off Hector Neris in the ninth to top the Cubs 7-6. It was the team's 16th blown Save of the season, and yet, for whatever reason, Jed Hoyer and company refuse to make a move to improve this team.

Once again, Javier Assad continued to deliver on the mound as he remains reliable and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Going back to August 1 of last season, Assad has posted a 2.39 ERA, which is the second-lowest mark in all of baseball. He may not always last long due to pitch counts, but for the most part, he has been as effective as they come but continues to have little to show for it.

Assad gave the Cubs five strong innings on a hitter-friendly night, allowing one run and striking out seven as he did his part on the mound. The only problem was facing the former St. Louis Cardinals closer, turned starter in Jordan Hicks, who matched Assad with five strong innings but gave up no runs in his outing.

Early on, neither team could do much offensively until a leadoff single from Thairo Estrada to begin the third had the Giants in business. That was followed by a walk to Trenton Brooks to set the offense up, but as has been the case for several months, Assad managed to escape trouble by keeping the Giants off the board.

Assad wasn't as lucky in the fourth as the Mike Yastrzemski triple followed a two-out walk to Jorge Soler as the Giants jumped in front 1-0. Given how the Cubs offense was performing once again, you had to think one run would be enough, especially after they wasted a bases-loaded opportunity in the fourth off a pair of Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner singles and a Michael Busch walk.

For the third straight inning, Assad was forced to pitch around significant traffic as he allowed a pair of fifth inning singles to Heliot Ramos and Patrick Bailey, but once again he managed to survive the jam as he got through five strong innings. With a chance to tie things up in the fifth, Patrick Wisdom started things off with a walk after he replaced Mike Tauchman after he left with a groin injury earlier in the game.

Wisdom moved to third on the Christopher Morel single before trying to score on a Cody Bellinger sacrifice fly, only to be gunned down at the plate. It was a questionable decision at the time, but you have to take that chance for a team struggling to score runs. Still trailing by one in the sixth, Craig Counsell turned to his erratic Bullpen, where both Luke Little and Hayden Wesneski struggled to get outs, loading the bases before Wesneski got out of it.

Some would say the momentum started to shift there as the Cubs finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth after Nico Hoerner legged out an infield single with two outs. That set things up for Michael Busch, who finally got back to hitting homers with an opposite-field shot as the Cubs took a 2-1 lead. It was a lead that didn't even make it through the commercial break, with Wesneski serving up another homer to Ramos to bring things back to even 2-2. That makes four of his last five outings allowing a homer for Wesneski as he continues to struggle.

Things went from bad to worse for Wesneski, as he walked four men in his outing, including three more in the seventh to load the bases and put Mark Leiter Jr. in a tough spot. There was one point in time when Leiter Jr. was one of the best relievers in the game, but even he is going through some issues right now. He hit Estrada with the bases loaded to push home another run as the Giants retook the lead 3-2.

As is the case so often with the wind blowing out, no lead is safe at Wrigley, and with Wisdom reaching on a misplayed pop-up, it was the Bellinger walk that started a two-out rally as the Cubs were threatening again. In search of another big hit, Seiya Suzuki delivered as his RBI single tied things up, but it was the biggest hit of the night coming shortly after from Ian Happ.

After going through one of the worst stretches of his career, Happ has been the team's best hitter the past few weeks, and that continued in this one as he got every bit of the Erik Miller offering and took it over the left field wall for the three-run shot to cap off the Cubs four-run seventh with a 6-3 lead. Had this been any other team, holding a three-run lead this late would instill a ton of confidence, but with Leiter surrendering a long homer to Bailey in the eighth to make things 6-4, you had a sense of bad things still to come.

With the Cubs failing to add on late and putting the pen in a position to close things out, things were uneasy entering the ninth, especially with Neris coming into the game. Arguably the worst closer in the MLB right now, Neris was awful again but wasn't given much help early on as a crucial catcher interference call put a base runner on instead of a potential strikeout.

That was followed by a walk to Yastrzemski to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Estrada. One pitch into that at-bat, the nightmare the fans envisioned became a reality as Estrada unloaded on a Neri's heater and put it into the left-field bleachers, and once again, the Cubs pen blew a late game lead with the Giants grabbing the 7-6 lead. The Cubs followed that up by going down in order against Camilo Doval, as this loss has to be the breaking point for this team as they fell 7-6.

Suzuki and Happ paced the offense with two hits, and Happ led the way with three RBIs.

After leaving the game with an injury, Tauchman was later diagnosed with a groin injury and will now await to see if he will hit the IL. Should that happen, look for Alexander Canario to find his way back in Chicago, but the question becomes, will they play him enough or at all?

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