Despite starting pitcher Jake Arrieta pitching into the seventh inning and catcher Welington Castillo tallying three base hits, a full-blown implosion by the bullpen led the Chicago Cubs to a second-straight loss at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays – this time by a 9-2 final.
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With Tuesday’s loss, Chicago (64-81) has been outscored in the first two games of the series by a staggering 17-2 margin. Heading into the seventh inning, the Cubs led 2-1, but eight Toronto runs between the seventh and eighth innings quickly took the wind out of Ricky Renteria’s club’s sails.
Jose Bautista delivered a go-ahead, three-run double on a full count, two-out pitch from Neil Ramirez in the bottom of the seventh, lacing the fastball into the left field corner, clearing the bases. Ramirez (2-2, 1.38 ERA) was charged with two of those runs, with the third being charged to the Chicago starter, Arrieta.
Arrieta, who had horrendous numbers in Toronto entering Tuesday’s contest, narrowly missed recording a quality start, allowing two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings of work, scattering seven hits, walking just one and striking out five. Ramirez, who has been lights-out for Chicago of late, lasted two-thirds of an inning and was charged with the aforementioned two runs.
Things unraveled quickly in the bottom of the eighth, when the Blue Jays hung a five-spot on the board against Chicago right-hander Brian Schlitter. Adam Lind led off the frame with a triple and a single by former Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro maddest a 5-2 ballgame. An RBI double by Danny Valencia advanced Navarro to third and both men scored on a Munenori Kawasaki single, which pushed the Jays’ lead to 7-2.
Schlitter failed to make it out of the inning and was charged with five runs – four earned – in just two-thirds of an inning. Blake Parker came in and allowed an RBI double before finally putting the cap on the painful frame.
Jorge Soler opened the scoring in the top of the first with a sacrifice fly that scored Javier Baez, who doubled in his first at-bat as part of a two-hit contest. The tally pushed Soler’s RBI total to 12 on the season in which he’s played in just 11 contests. Despite a 1-for-4 evening, the young outfielder is still batting .366.
Castillo lined a single off Toronto starter Mark Buerhle (12-9, 3.31 ERA) in the fifth to make it a 2-0 Chicago lead. The veteran southpaw Buehrle allowed two earned on ten hits in seven innings of work for the Blue Jays.
Mike Olt went 0-for-4 as the Cubs’ designated hitter Tuesday with a pair of strikeouts.