The Cubs had a chance to complete a sweep of the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, which would have been their second straight. Chicago had the lead a couple of times but they fell behind in the middle innings and Baltimore’s excellent bullpen slammed the door to snap a five-game winning streak.
Mike Tauchman had a huge 1st inning, throwing out Austin Hays at the plate when he tried to tag from third and then hitting his first Cubs home run off of Dean Kremer to open up the bottom of the frame. Jameson Taillon got off to a decent start before running into issues in the 4th.
Anthony Santander began the inning with a game-tying solo home run to center field. A single and a walk were then followed by an RBI hit from Ramón Urías that put the O’s ahead before a double play prevented further damage.
Chicago answered right back when right fielder Ryan O’Hearn dropped Cody Bellinger‘s fly ball for a three-base error with two men out. Christopher Morel made Baltimore play for their mistake, hitting an absolute laser-beam two-run homer to left-center to put the home team up 3-2.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 18, 2023
Following a typical pattern for 2023, Taillon ran out of steam in the 6th inning with a single and a double setting up a game-tying sacrifice fly by Urías. New addition Anthony Kay took over from there and was greeted rudely by three consecutive singles, including run-scoring knocks by Adam Frazier and Jorge Mateo to make it 5-3 Orioles.
The Cubs’ bats went silent against the hard-throwing relievers in the back end of Baltimore’s ‘pen and they lost by a 6-3 margin. (Box score)
Miguel Amaya and Nick Madrigal were hit by pitches to bring the go-ahead run up to bat with one out in the 7th inning. Tauchman struck out and Nico Hoerner grounded out to end the threat. Amaya got hit in the wrist and had to come out of the game.
Why the Cubs Lost
They did not record a hit after the 4th inning and only had three for the entire contest. Taillon has issues facing a lineup for a third time and it unfortunately exposed the soft underbelly of the pitching staff.
Stats That Matter
- Taillon’s big problem on Sunday was the lack of whiffs which allowed the Orioles to get a slew of two-strike hits: 5.1 IP, 4 R, 8 H, 1 K, and 2 BB.
- Tauchman was the only Cub to reach base twice in the game.
- Morel’s homer came after he worked a 3-1 count, showing his improved plate approach. His strikeout rate is dropping steadily as well.
- The Cubs are now 2-10 on Sundays and 5-17 in the scheduled final game of a series.
Baltimore is a very good team, so getting a sweep was not going to be easy. This was an excellent week for the Cubs and there are a lot of good things happening as they climb back into the race, though some big flaws remain. Issues with the front end of the bullpen are at the top of that list, so maybe a couple of pitchers dominating in the minor leagues will be able to come up and help down the stretch.
Chicago heads to Pittsburgh to start a three-game set with the suddenly reeling Pirates beginning Monday at 6:05pm CT. Drew Smyly takes the hill against rookie Osvaldo Bido with a broadcast on Marquee and 670 The Score.