Rally comes up short for Cubs against Rays
|Wednesday, April 20, 2022, 9:18 AM- -|
CHICAGO - There haven't been too many times this season where the Chicago Cubs (6-5) didn't score first in a game. As a matter of fact, there hadn't been a game this season where the Cubs didn't lead at some point. You had to think that would end at some point, as there was just no way a team could lead in every game during the season.
Well, you are correct, as not only did the Cubs streak of scoring first come to an end, but it was the first time all season they didn't lead in a game, falling to the Tampa Bay Rays (6-6) 6-5. After looking like one of their best, if not their best, starter his first two times through the rotation, Justin Steele struggled in this one, going just 2 2/3 innings and allowing four runs. This was the first time he failed to reach the fifth inning as a lack of command did him in.
Opposing him was an opener with Matt Wisler getting the ball and going just 1 2/3 innings. Using an opener was a once in a blue moon situation a few years ago, but the Rays invented it, and now plenty of teams have followed their path. After Wisler came, Josh Fleming, who, although allowed three earned runs, lasted long enough to get the win.
Neither team did anything in the first inning, but a Yandy Diaz double to lead off the second had the Rays in business against Steele. Two batters later saw Manuel Margot manufacture a run via a groundout with the Rays grabbing a rare early lead against the Cubs 1-0.
One inning later saw the Rays bust the game wide open as Steele began to run into some serious trouble. A Taylor Walls walk with one put a runner on base, followed by a controversial call at first base that went the Cubs way. Had that not happened, you had two runners on with one out, but instead, you have one runner on with two outs. That didn't bother the Rays as Wander Franco got every bit of a stell offspeed pitch and launched it into the left-center field seats for the 3-0 lead. A Brandon Lowe single later in that inning put the Rays in front 4-0 and signaled the end of the road for Steele and his day.
Not only trailing early in the game for the first time in a while, but trailing by a large margin, it was the Cubs turn to use a big inning to get back into the game. What started with an Ian Happ single was followed by a Frank Schwindel RBI double as the Cubs got on the board. Schwindel is riding an eight-game hitting streak and is starting to come into his own. With two outs, David Ross decided to roll the dice and called on Patrick Wisdom to pinch-hit for Jason Heyward. That decision worked to perfection as Wisdom went deep for the second time in as many nights, and just like that, we had a 4-3 game.
That score would hold until the seventh inning when Chris Martin came out of the pen for Ethan Roberts. After retiring the first hitter he faced, Martin served up a triple to Taylor Walls, and once again, the Rays were ready to strike. Randy Arozarena followed that up with a double before a Harold Ramirez single up the middle had Tampa Bay back in front by three 6-3.
Like the last time the Rays had a big inning, the Cubs had an answer and wouldn't go down without a fight. This all got started with two outs as Clint Frazier took one for the team to keep the inning alive. Two pitches later saw Nico Hoerner rip one down the third-base line as the ball rolled to the wall for an RBI triple. A couple of batters later saw Hoerner come home to score as a wild pitch pulled the Cubs within 6-5.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, that one-run deficit was too much for the Cubs as their offense was nonexistent over the final two innings. With the combination of Andrew Kittredge and his deception on the mound, Chicago could not put a runner on base as they settled for the 6-5 loss to even the series.
When you generate five hits as a team, it is hard to win games, which is all the Cubs had offensively. Those hits came from Jonathan Villar, Schwindel, Wisdom, Hoerner, and Happ as the Cubs go for the series win on Wednesday.