Smyly struggles as Yankees even series against Cubs
Gregory Fisher - USA Today Sports

Smyly struggles as Yankees even series against Cubs

by - Senior Writer -

NEW YORK - After a historic win on Friday that saw the Chicago Cubs 41-47 earn their first-ever win at Yankee Stadium; they returned to the Bronx on Saturday for game two with the New York Yankees 49-41. Looking to stay hot and pick up a massive series win heading into the all-star break, things would not be easy as the Ace of the Yankees staff Gerrit Cole was standing in their way.

The former Pittsburgh Pirate hurler has had an impressive run during his tenure with the Yankees and has put up some great numbers against the Cubs in the past. It would be up to the Cubs to try and jump on him early while Drew Smyly was tasked with slowing down a Yankees offense that only had two hits on Friday.

You had to think, at some point, the Yankee bats would come to life as they are too talented to be held to just two hits. Consider that Smyly has been struggling for the better part of the past month, and this didn't look like a good matchup on paper. That proved to be the case as Smyly allowed four runs in four innings as the Yankees evened up the series with a 6-3 win.

Smyly may not have been horrible, but he hasn't been great since his incredible start to the season, and that is a bit concerning for the Cubs and their staff. Smyly labored through his four innings, allowing four runs on six hits while throwing 85 pitches. He walked four and struck out three as his high pitch count ended his day sooner than he would have liked.

On the other hand, Cole was much more efficient and continued his strong showings against the Cubs. The right-hander pitched into the eighth inning before being removed as he threw 103 pitches in 7 1/3. Cole allowed three runs on five hits but only struck out five as the Cubs did an excellent job putting the ball in play. Unlike in Friday's game, which saw the Yankees shutout, their offense didn't waste any time grabbing the lead as Giancarlo Stanton took Smyly deep for a solo shot in the first and the 1-0 lead.

The Cubs had a chance to pull even in the second with Christopher Morel working a walk ahead of the Yan Gomes single, only to have Cole wiggle out of trouble. The long ball continued to be an issue for Smyly and a benefit for the Yankees as Josh Donaldson touched him up for another solo shot in the second to extend the lead to 2-0. That was followed by DJ LeMahieu's double, but Smyly recovered to prevent further damage.

Anytime you face a guy like Cole, you can't let opportunities like the second inning slip away. After Miles Mastrobuoni led off the second with a double, the Cubs offense had their opportunity again. This time they brought home a run, with Nico Hoerner delivering an RBI groundout to make things 2-1.

Not to be outdone, the Yankees offense continued to keep the pressure on as the one-out single from Gleyber Torres was followed by a Stanton walk. Anthony Rizzo kept the line moving with another single, but the Harrison Bader double did the most damage and extended the lead to 4-1. Those were the final runs Smyly would allow, as he had to work in and out of trouble to get through the fourth before handing things to Michael Rucker in the fifth.

Rucker was greeted rather rudely in his outing, with Torres starting the fifth with an infield single and then jogging home on Stanton's second homer to make things 6-1. Rucker bounced back to retire the next three hitters he faced, but the damage was already done. Not only did the Cubs offense go quiet after their run in the third, but Cole retired 12 consecutive hitters and 15 of 16 at one point, with Seiya Suzuki adding a seventh-inning single into the mix.

With Javier Assad on the mound and giving the Cubs another nice outing of relief, it was up to their offense to get something going, as Cole was on cruise control through seven. Then came the eighth inning, where it looked like he was running out of gas as Mastrobuoni picked up a one-out single to put a runner on base.

That hit was followed by the Mike Tauchman homer, and just like that, it was a 6-3 game, and Cole was coming out.

Nothing more came from that inning as Michael King finished the eighth before returning to pitch the ninth.

Needing at least three runs to tie things up, the Cubs were down to their final out before Morel extended the inning with a hit by a pitch. Things would end shortly after as King got Gomes to fly out to center field to end the game. The Cubs had five hits in the game, with Mastrobuoni leading the way with two. Tauchman, Suzuki, and Gomes had the other three hits, with Cody Bellinger seeing his season-long 13-game hitting streak come to an end.

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