Game Eleven – Cubs 2, Padres 5
WP – Andrew Cashner (1-2) LP – Jon Lester (0-2) Save – Joaquin Benoit (1)
The Cubs jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning before the bats went quiet after the third inning. Will Middlebrooks tied the game with a two-run shot off Jon Lester in the second. And what’s left of the bullpen could not keep the Padres off the board as the Cubs dropped the series finale to the Padres on Sunday afternoon.
Once again, the Cubs didn’t quit. Jorge Soler (1-for-5 with a RBI) stepped in with two on and two out in the ninth representing the tying run. But Soler struck out swinging to end the game. The Cubs were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position Sunday and left nine men on base.
Jon Lester pitched a 1-2-3 first inning before command issues popped up in the second inning. After Derek Norris singled to start the second, Will Middlebrooks crushed a 1-1 pitch and his two-run homer to left tied the game at two. Lester put zeros on the board in the third, fourth and fifth innings before he was lifted with one out in the sixth. Lester walked Matt Kemp and gave up a single to Norris to start the inning. Lester retired Middlebrooks on a pop out to center to end his afternoon on the mound.
Joe Maddon called on Brian Schlitter at that point with two on, one out and the game tied at two. Jedd Gyorko flied out to right, Kemp advanced to third and scored on a Will Venable single to center on a 0-2 pitch. Clint Barmes struck out swinging to end the inning … and closed the book on Lester.
Jon Lester was charged with three runs on six hits with two walks and four strikeouts. Lester threw 97 pitches, 57 for strikes, in 5 1/3 innings.
The Padres added two insurance runs on one swing of the bat in the seventh.
Jason Motte was greeted with a pinch-hit single from Yonder Alonso leading off the seventh. After Alonso was forced at second when Wil Myers hit a grounder to third, Motte could not put away Yangervis Solarte. Motte hung a breaking ball on the eighth pitch of the at bat (2-2 count) that Solarte pulled down the line and into the construction zone beyond the right field wall.
What was a strength of the Cubs team over the first week-plus of the season has become a real weakness and quite concerning. Due to short outings from the starters and injuries to Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm, the pen is no longer an asset and will have to be addressed.
Joe Maddon and Chris Bosio also have to correct the issue with mistakes on two-strike pitches, especially when the pitchers are ahead in the count. Both the Will Venable go ahead single and the Yangervis Solarte home run were hit on two-strike pitches. Both longballs in Friday’s loss came on 1-2 counts and two of the four runs in the ninth inning in Saturday’s game were produced with two-strike hits.
The Cubs took advantage of two Padres’ errors in the first inning.
Dexter Fowler (2-for-5 with a run scored) led off with a single to right and took second when Matt Kemp overran the ball. Jorge Soler (1-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored) singled to center, Fowler scored and the Cubs took a 1-0 lead. Anthony Rizzo (0-for-4) popped out to short and Kris Bryant (1-for-3 with a double and a HBP) struck out swinging. Starlin Castro (1-for-4) reached on an error by Solarte at first, he dropped Clint Barmes’ throw from short. With runners on the corners and two down, Chris Coghlan (1-for-4 with a RBI) singled to right, Soler scored and the Cubs took a 2-0 lead. David Ross walked to load the bases. But Jon Lester (0-for-2 with six left on base) bounced out to third to end the inning.
The Cubs loaded the bases twice in the first three innings only to have Jon Lester make the third out both times. The Cubs ran up Andrew Cashner’s pitch count (84 pitches, 55 strikes) by the fourth inning. But not taking advantage of early opportunities cost them before Andrew Cashner settled in.
The Cubs managed only one hit after the third until the ninth. Chris Denorfia reached with two outs on an infield single and Fowler bunted his way on to bring Soler to the plate representing the tying run.
The Cubs scored two runs on seven hits with two walks and a HBP. The Padres’ staff, after Bud Black was ejected in the second inning, struck out eight batters on the afternoon.
The play that happened in the second inning involving Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo will be part of highlight reels for years to come. Lester fielded a comebacker to the mound off the bat of Clint Barmes in the second inning and turned to throw to second base. At that point, Lester realized the ball was stuck in the webbing of his glove. Lester made several quick steps toward first base before under-handing his glove, with the ball in the webbing, to Rizzo as he dropped his glove to make the catch and secure the out.
The Cubs begin a two-city, seven-game road trip in Pittsburgh on Monday night (6:05pm CDT). Jake Arrieta is scheduled to face A.J. Burnett in the opener.