Mistakes loom large in Cubs loss to Rockies
Isaiah Downing - USA Today Sports

Mistakes loom large in Cubs loss to Rockies

by - Senior Writer -

DENVER - I don't care what the situation is or how much you are struggling to win games right now. You have to beat the Colorado Rockies (53-92) to be considered a playoff threat. Colorado is the worst team in the National League, and the Chicago Cubs (78-69) came into Coors Field and laid an egg at the wrong time.

It was so bad that they should feel fortunate that they didn't get swept after some ninth-inning heroics bailed them out in game one. Despite all their struggles, the Cubs still had a chance to win this series as they sent Jameson Taillon to the mound against Ty Blach. What looked to be a promising start early, with the Cubs leading 3-0, turned ugly in a hurry as a four-run fifth inning was the Cubs demise in their 7-3 loss on Wednesday.

Losses are one thing, but losing a series to the worst team in your league when you are in a playoff hunt can't happen. However, it is not the losses that are frustrating, but more like the overall play of the Cubs in this series, as you could make the case that this was their worst season series. From endless baserunning mistakes to careless errors, everything that could go wrong in Colorado did, and now the Cubs will be in a dogfight the rest of the way.

With Blach on the mound, you had to like the Cubs chances, especially when you look at his body of work this season. Not only did the Cubs want to be aggressive with him, but four pitches into the game, the Cubs led 1-0 as Christopher Morel opened the game with an RBI double, followed by a Nico Hoerner single and the Cody Bellinger sacrifice fly. The Cubs would have loved to get more, but another player getting thrown out on the bases ended that as Hoerner was gunned down trying to steal second.

Even with the Cubs squandering another chance early on, Taillon was locked in early as he looked just as sharp as he did against Arizona in his previous start. Taillon may have gone just five innings, allowing five runs, but he wasn't helped by his defense, which we will get to in a little while. After an aggressive approach in the first inning, the Cubs changed things up in the second and decided to get more patient against Blach.

A one-out double from Ian Happ was an excellent start, as was a Patrick Wisdom walk and Miguel Amaya single to load the bases with one out. These are the opportunities the Cubs need to cash in on, and per usual, they were unable to as Brach pitched into and out of trouble to keep things close early. The same can be said about the third inning, with Hoerner and Bellinger starting things off with a pair of infield hits to help get things going for the Cubs offense again.

Unlike in the second inning when they were unable to get the runs across, Dansby Swanson came through with an RBI double off the right field wall to extend the Cubs lead to 2-0. One batter later, Seiya Suzuki went the other way for a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to 3-0 as the Cubs were looking good. Little did they know, those would be the only runs they would score, as the lack of offense in Coors Field this week has to be a concern for these final 15 games.

Through three innings, Taillon faced one above the minimum while striking out four, and the Cubs were feeling confident with his effort. That was until the fifth inning when he started to lose it a little bit, walking Kris Bryant with one out before allowing a pair of two-out singles to Ryan McMahon and Ezequiel Tovar to pull the Rockies within 3-1. Things only got worse for Taillon in the fifth as he not only hit a wall but slammed face-first into that wall in a hurry.

With one down in the bottom of the fifth, Austin Wynns took up the middle for a single to bring the tying run to the plate. After fighting off a couple of tough pitches, Nolan Jones was the tying run as he cranked one to left center for a two-run shot, making this a 3-3 game. The game's biggest play came two batters later when Happ dropped an inning-ending fly ball to allow Bryant to reach base. One pitch later, it was a 5-3 Rockies lead as Elehuris Montero wasted no time taking Taillon deep to put the Rockies in front 5-3. Taillon would get through the fifth, but that would be it for him, as this was now a battle of the bullpens the rest of the way.

Coming into this series, the Colorado bullpen was struggling and had an MLB-worst 5.93 ERA. You would have never guessed that this week, as they shut the Cubs down apart from game one and dominated them in the process. With Hayden Wesneski on to pitch the sixth, Colorado had something going as Brendan Rodgers and Wynns picked up a pair of singles before a walk to Jones loaded the bases with one down. Wesneski managed to escape that situation by inducing an inning-ending double play as the Cubs hoped this was the momentum shift they needed.

It was a momentum shift, but not in a good way, as Bryant took Wesneski deep to begin the bottom half of the seventh for his second bomb in as many days, with Drew Smyly serving one up to McMahon later in the inning to make things 7-3. With Matt Koch on to pitch the eighth in relief of Gavin Holloway, the Cubs appeared to have something going as Suzuki walked to open the inning, followed by a Happ single.

Two batters later saw Mike Tauchman take another free pass as the Cubs had the bases loaded with one out for the second time in the game. Like in the second, it was the Rockies who escaped, with Koch retiring Yan Gomes and Morel to end the threat and keep the Rockies in front by four. They held that lead into the when, with Hoerner leading things off with his fourth hit of the game before the offense went quiet and fell to Colorado 7-3.

The loss ensures that the Cubs will go at least six years without a winning series at Coors Field, as they haven't won a series there since 2018. It also means they are in danger of falling five games behind the Brewers in the Central and seeing their lead dwindle to one in the Wild Card race, as it may be time to focus on the Wild Card instead of the division. Hoerner had a great night at the plate, leading the way with four hits, while Amaya and Happ added two. The Cubs will enjoy an off day Thursday before heading to Arizona for their biggest series of the season.

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