PITTSBURGH – Any momentum the Chicago Cubs built after a series win against the world champions quickly evaporated.
The Cubs lost for the 14th time in 18 games Thursday, falling to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 at the conclusion of a four-game streak.
A five-stroke rally in the eighth inning set the Cubs for a streak of splits when hitter Alfonso Rivas delivered two separate wins, twice, to give them one lead. But the attempt to return did not last even a little. Michael Chaves poked deep into right-handed David Robertson for a home tie, eventually losing the Cubs in one game to finish 10th.
In a frightening moment, the Cubs’ coaches were taken to the base of the game due to an apparent medical problem. Cubs bullpen coach Chris Young became dizzy during the inning, prompting the coaches, including the medical staff from Pirates, to delay the game by six minutes.
Manager David Ross said after the match that Young had gone to the hospital, been tested, and would be fine. Ross appreciated the patience of rulers and pirates.
“You don’t know if it was a player or a coach, he stopped everything – you see the concern on people’s faces,” Ross said. “There is a lot going on. The medical staff was on top of it.”
The Cubs (26-44) are headed to St. Louis with the fifth worst record in baseball. Here are three thoughts on the state of the team.
The right hand holder was one of the best stories to come out of spring training.
The 24-year-old’s rookie camp performance earned him a spot on the Major League roster for the first time in his career behind a bad slider. Roberts made it to the injured list in late April with a right shoulder infection, but he was working on getting back to the Cubs when his season took an unfortunate turn. He left his rehab debut with Triple-A Iowa on Sunday after throwing a pitch and pointed in pain to the coach.
An evaluation revealed a rupture of the ulnar collateral ligament. Roberts needs Tommy John surgery at the end of the season. The procedure has not yet been scheduled.
“Even going back to last calendar year, what he did to put himself on the map and the reason we put him on a 40-man off season is because we believe in him and what he can do, and I think he really showed good glimpses of that early in the year,” show coach Tommy said. Hotoffy. “It’s a pity that he hasn’t had the opportunity to really show us what he can do over the course of the year. He doesn’t change anything. We believe in him.
“And no matter what happens the rest of this year, that moment in spring training when we told him he made the team, it’s one of those things you’ll never forget.”
Hotofy said he wasn’t clear on whether Roberts’ injury had occurred on the pitch or if something had changed at the prospect of adapting to a shoulder problem. Hotofy watched Roberts’ latest live batting practice from a distance and thought it looked cool.
“All the reports we got were just some of that sort of thing,” Hotofy said.
Roberts is the second young loyalist to lose the Cubs to Tommy John’s surgery this year after the buyout on trade deadline Cody Hoyer underwent surgery in March. Although it’s an unexpected snag for Roberts, the Cubs clearly think of him a lot, both as a pitcher and as a person, after seeing him in camp and nine games in April. He should have a chance to re-establish himself once he is healthy.
“We have a lot of confidence in Ethan, and he has big things in the league there,” Ross said. “I know he will work hard to come back.”
The Cubs’ defense didn’t help their bowlers this week.
After a game of four fouls on Thursday, the Cubs made 10 on the four-game series. The errors forced more playing fields for the Cubs and gave the Buccaneers additional opportunities in an offensive manner. Entering Thursday, five players on the active Cubs roster were banned from passive runs, led by player Jonathan Villar minus -6. Villar, who made a field error in the loss, also ranks last in the team at minus 8 times above average. This also makes it the second largest in the big companies.
The Cubs’ 43 errors in 70 games are the ninth most in the major tournaments. Ross said the Cubs need to “close things up” defensively.
“We have to keep getting back to work,” Ross said.
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For a Cubs team that lacks stars, the basics need to be done. A lot of times this season, particularly during their four games in Pittsburgh, the Cubs have played sloppy games on the field, ranging from not hitting the cutting man to failing to feel the ball cleanly. And given how many matches they’ve had in one round and they’ve been on the wrong side of it, defense can be a game-changer. In the case of cubs, it contributes to the loss column.
Steele was not shy about attacking the area against pirates on Thursday.
He finished with a 78% strike rate, relying largely on his slider to try to neutralize them. His passer accounts for 42% of the 100 throws thrown in a loss, well above his season’s average of 25.9% with the field. Steele got 10 puffs on the slider, a ground he was able to use in any situation against pirates.
Steele’s use of the slider is an encouraging development, and it’s a sign that he’s comfortable going with it a lot when he’s on with some positive results, too.
“I felt like I was putting it in the hit whenever I wanted to, putting it in the dirt when I wanted it and putting it in the back when I wanted it when you have control on a court like this and you need a hit or you need something to chase, that’s what you go for,” Steele said. .
Steele’s pitching streak—six runs (five earned), seven hits in 5-step innings without a walk and eight hits—was not fully indicative of how well a left-handed throw was.
“It was as clean and efficient as I’ve seen so far,” Ross said. “His stuff was playing well, hanging a breaker ball 0-2 that cost him Homer. But for the most part, he played really well. We didn’t give him any breaks.”