Contreras injured on demoralizing day for Cubs
|Wednesday, August 9, 2017 7:01 PM- -|
SAN FRANCISCO – The Chicago Cubs lost in more ways than one on Wednesday, with the team suffering demoralizing defeats in every facet imaginable. From a lackluster start by one of its aces to a sickening late-inning downturn and a star player suffering an injury, Chicago did not end its three-game series with the San Francisco Giants on a high note. Falling 3-1 in a game that saw the Cubs experience relatively little offensive success, the North Siders dropped their second of three contests at AT&T Park, with a series loss to the National League-worst Giants serving as another item on the list of the Cubs' demoralizing series of events from Wednesday.
With Kyle Hendricks of Chicago battling Madison Bumgarner of San Francisco on the afternoon, Wedneday's game had all of the makings of a pitching duel, but neither starter was particularly dominant. Hendricks struggled with his command early on, running up his pitch count and walking three batters in the opening three innings. He gave up consecutive two-out singles in the second, the latter of which was a hit by Giants second baseman Joe Panik that scored third baseman Pablo Sandoval to put San Francisco up 1-0.
Singles were a mainstay of today's game, with small ball appropriately playing a major role in a matchup featuring two of the National League's most iconic franchises. The Cubs added the first run via the long ball, though, as center fielder Albert Almora, Jr., powered a 388-foot homer just over the wall in left field to knot the game up at one in the third inning. Almora, who now has five homers on the year, had a solid afternoon at the plate, going 2-3 and serving as the lone Cub to experience conspicuous success batting against Bumgarner.
Following the Almora jack, Bumgarner settled down and pitched well for the remainder of his seven-inning start. Although he gave up three hits in the the first three frames, Bumgarner gave up only one hit the rest of the way and finished with seven strikeouts to his name, receiving the win to become 2-5 overall. As for Hendricks, after showing signs of fatigue in the bottom of the fifth, and with his pitch count nearing 100, he was pulled from the game, finishing with a stat line of five hits, one run and five strikeouts in 4.2 innings on the bump.
Following a successful 1.1-inning stint by Chicago's Mike Montgomery in relief, Brian Duensing was called upon in the seventh to pitch for the Cubs. An early-season addition, Duensing has never quite produced for Chicago like he was expected to upon arrival, instead often pitching in situations far less intense than the 1-1 spot in which he found himself today when handed the ball. After striking out a leadoff pinch-hitter, Duensing proceeded to allow three straight singles, culminating in Giants center fielder Denard Span crossing the plate on a hit by left fielder Jarrett Parker to put San Francisco up 2-1.
Despite a leadoff single by second baseman Ben Zobrist, who went 2-4 at the dish, the Cubs were unable to make anything happen in the following inning, and they paid the price in the bottom half of the eighth, as Giants right fielder Hunter Pence blasted his 10th home run of the year. Sending a Pedro Strop pitch into the right field bleachers, Pence, who finished 2-3 with a walk, provided San Francisco with some breathing room. As it turns out, that breathing room was not needed, as Chicago went three up, three down in the ninth to secure the Giants' 3-1 victory.
With Duensing receiving the loss to fall to 0-1, the Cubs dropped to 59-54 in a rubber match that resulted in their third consecutive series defeat and their sixth loss in eight games. Making matters worse for the North Siders, catcher Willson Contreras, who has been, without a doubt, the Cubs' most impactful player since the All-Star break, pulled up lame while running out a ground ball in the eighth, having to exit the game as a result. With the regular season gearing up for its final stage, the Cubs can ill afford to allow their recent subpar play to persist, but, if Contreras is unable to play for the foreseeable future, a quick turnaround might be next to impossible.