Ohtani, Trout shine in win over Cubs
Gary Vasquez - USA Today Sports

Ohtani, Trout shine in win over Cubs

by - Senior Writer -

LOS ANGELES - Throughout the rich history of Major League Baseball, the Chicago Cubs (26-34) and Los Angeles Angels (32-20) haven't met a ton. Granted, Interleague play began in the late 1990s, but even at that, these teams have only met 18 times over the past 25 years.

Eight of those 18 games have come at Angels Stadium, and the Cubs have posted an 11-7 record against the Angels thus far. Making their first trip to the Big A since 2016, the Chicago Cubs looked to keep their winning ways going against the AL West as Hayden Wesneski took on Tyler Anderson.

With Justin Steele on the IL, this is an opportunity for Wesneski to prove his worth again and show he deserves to be on this team long-term. The Cubs helped his case by backing him with plenty of early offense as Chicago took a 4-1 lead into the fifth. In the fifth, the bottom fell out as Matt Mervis committed a crucial error that opened the floodgates to a five-run frame, and the Angels came back to defeat the Cubs 7-4.

Things have been a struggle for Wesneski this season, but he deserved much better on Wednesday. The right-hander walked one, struck out four in his 4 2/3 innings, and was charged with two earned runs. He did allow four runs total, but had it not been for that error, he put himself in a position to win the game, which is all you can ask for.

Speaking of struggling, Tyler Anderson has had a rough go of things in his first with the Angels, as his ERA continues to hover around 6.00. Anderson overcame some early struggles to settle in and gave the Angels five innings of four-run five-hit ball. He walked three and struck out five but was given the support to pick up the win.

The damage against Anderson came in the second inning as the Cubs jumped on him quickly. Seiya Suzuki started that inning with a leadoff single before advancing to third on the Yan Gomes double. Two batters later saw Mike Tauchman continue his hot start with the Cubs as his single up the middle gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead.

Chicago wasn't done with Patrick Wisdom earning a walk to put a pair of runners on base again, while Mervis came through with a rare hit against a left-hander as his RBI double extended the lead to 4-0.

This was the start the Cubs needed after getting shutout on Monday, but they didn't score the rest of the way, and that is a concerning trend that happens far too often with this team.

The Cubs had a chance to add on in the third after Anderson walked a pair of hitters, but he managed to wiggle his way out of trouble and kept things at 4-0. For Wesneski, he couldn't have asked for a better start in this one as he retired the first nine hitters he faced, with three of them coming on early strikeouts. Then came the top of the fourth when Shohei Otanai ripped a line drive just over the head of Suzuki in right, and the Angels were on the board with a solo shot.

That homer was the jolt the Angels offense needed as they came out for blood in the fifth. Brandon Drury started that inning with a double, only to have Wesneski hit the next batter to put a pair of runners on with no outs. Looking for a double play ball to get out of the inning, Wesneski got Luis Rengifo to put it on the ground, but Mervis was unable to handle the chance, and the Angels loaded the bases with one out.

It's amazing how one play can completely change the course of an inning, as that error opened the floodgates for what was a huge inning for the Angels. After a wild pitch pulled the Angels within 4-2, David Ross went to Brandon Hughes, hoping to get Otani out and escape the jam. Not only did Hughes fail to do that and walked Otani, but he then proceeded to allow a two-run single by Mike Trout as the Angels tied things up 4-4.

Hughes continued to struggle, and some might argue that this was his worst outing of the season as that hit was followed by another walk to Anthony Rendon while Matt Thaiss capped off the five-run frame with a liner over the head of Dansby Swanson and, just like the Angels were in front 6-4. Those are the kind of innings that have frustrated the Cubs fans all season, as Hughes was excellent last season, but for whatever reason, the entire bullpen is struggling this season.

Now, with the lead in hand, Phil Nevin could go to his pen, which is far superior to what Ross has in his. Jose Soriano breezed through the sixth, but Jacob Webb had some issues in the seventh as the Cubs had their opportunity to break through. With one down, Swanson started a nice little rally with a single, followed by a pair of walks from Ian Happ and Suzuki.

Looking for a big hit with the bases loaded, Gomes came to the plate to face Chris Devenski and managed to hit one right on the screws. The problem was he smoked it right to Zach Neto at shortstop, who caught the ball, turned, and flipped to second for the inning-ending double play. That sums up the season for this Cubs team, as that was the last of their scoring opportunities.

Given the number of issues the Cubs have had in their pen, Ross has had to use guys in different roles to see what they can do. Julian Merryweather is starting to emerge as one of the more trusted options as he mowed through the Angels lineup in the sixth. Jeremiah Estrada, on the hand, may have pitched his last game in Chicago on Tuesday as he allowed a leadoff homer to Taylor Ward to begin the seventh before three straight walks loaded the bases with no outs. Michael Fulmer took over from there and escaped the seventh without further damage, but the Cubs still trailed 7-4.

Fulmer continued to mow through the Angels lineup in the eighth as the Cubs headed to the ninth trailing by three. Facing off against Carlos Estevez, the Cubs had one last-ditch rally in them as Nico Hoerner picked up a one-out single to set the offense up, with Happ adding a single two batters later. That would be as close as the Cubs would get as Suzuki swung at a high heater to end the game as the Angels took game one 7-4.

Hoerner led the offense with two hits, with six other players picking up one.

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