The 31,946 fans at Wrigley Field roared Friday afternoon when Christopher Morel singled to center field in the eighth inning of the Chicago Cubs game against the Reds. Morel's single ended the no-hit bid by the Reds staff...with the Cubs down 7-0. It was the only cheer the hometown fans could muster during the Cubs' 9-0 loss. The Reds pounded out 19 hits.
This game was brutal in every sense of the word. Not even team ace Justin Steele could make it a competitive game. Steele had his worst start at home in a very long time, going only 3.2 innings, surrendering six runs (five earned) on 10 hits. It was the first time Steele had given up more than three earned runs at Wrigley since April 19th last year. The defense did not help either, committing two errors and allowing the first run to score on a rough route in right by Morel.
Steele getting rocked is not necessarily worrisome in the long run, considering how good he has been, but it was rough to watch regardless. Especially being at the hands of a division rival.
Even if the pitching was a bit better, it would not have mattered much considering the Cubs were kept off the board and only recorded two hits. They faced 23-year-old fireballer Hunter Greene, who has nasty stuff and a ton of promise but is still growing as an MLB pitcher. Greene struck out 11 Cubs in six innings. Despite some decent at-bats, the Cubs could not hit the ball.
The frustrating thing was less about Greene dominating, but the lineup that was put out. Seiya Suzuki was off and Mike Tauchman was hitting third, with Miles Mastrobuoni and Tucker Barnhart at the bottom of the order. Tauchman has been solid so far, but hitting third was a bit of a head-scratcher. Though to be fair to Tauchman, Mastrobuoni, and Barnhart, none of the other regulars hit either. Mastrobuoni was the only other Cub to record a hit to his credit.
Bad games happen, but during this awful stretch, this loss felt magnified. It was not necessarily the same feeling as blowing the 6-1 lead to the Astros, or even the 16-3 loss to the Twins which was really the first time they had gotten blown out. It was a flat-out helpless feeling seeing it unfold. This was just a nightmare from the beginning and completely killed the good vibes from the Mets series win. A team trying to find consistency and answers after the two Mets wins got outscored 19-1 over the next two. As a fan, it's just hard to swallow and has us asking more questions.
Saturday night is another game and a chance to put this one in the rearview mirror. Ideally, the Cubs channel what they did in the first two games against the Mets.