It had been a while since the Cubs had swept a series, and after taking Game 1 of the doubleheader Wednesday against the Rockies, they had a chance to do just that.
The offense carried the Cubs during their first two games against Colorado. After Rafael Ortega’s walk-off homer on Monday and Patrick Wisdom’s heroics in Game 1, it looked like the offense was going to carry them again in the nightcap.
The lineup wasn’t able to come through a final time in the Cubs’ 13-10 loss in Game 2.
“These guys have fought to the end a lot,” manager David Ross said. “Sometimes, the pitching gets the best of us, but the effort, the intent and the focus is there night in and night out. We’re gonna make some mistakes at times. But the way this group goes about it, they’re locked into every pitch and engaged.”
After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, the Cubs’ offense went to work, opening the bottom of the second inning with four consecutive hits. Not only did they respond with a five-run inning against Rockies ace German Marquez, but they also got left-hander Justin Steele off the hook.
After Steele left the game in the fourth, it was up to the bullpen, and things did not go well. Cubs relievers allowed six unanswered runs over the next three innings, including a fourth-inning grand slam.
Each time it seemed like the Cubs were knocked down, the offense kept getting back up, including in the seventh inning.
Matt Duffy led off the inning with a single before Frank Schwindel added an infield single to bring the tying run to the plate. Ian Happ got a pitch to hit and didn’t waste it, hitting a towering three-run homer into the left-center field basket to tie the game at 8-8.
The Cubs also came back with a game-tying run in the eighth on a throwing error by Rockies shortstop Trevor Story.
But that’s where the good feelings ended as the Cubs were unable to push the winning run across despite having opportunities. The Rockies took the lead in the 10th inning as third baseman Ryan McMahon hit a two-run homer in the basket in left field for an 11-9 lead. They added two more runs in the inning on a two-run double by Brendan Rodgers.
The game wasn’t the best outing for the Cubs’ bullpen. Trevor Megill, Rex Brothers, Michael Rucker and Jake Jewell combined to allow a total of seven earned runs in the game. The one bright spot out of the bullpen was right-hander Adrian Sampson, who did not allow an earned run in two innings, enabling the Cubs to stay in the game late.
The game also was not the best outing for Steele, who made his third start of the season. He allowed five earned runs over 3⅔ innings with two walks and five strikeouts. The left-hander has made it through five innings just once since joining the rotation.
“I wish my fastball command would have been a little bit better,” Steele said. “I made some mistakes over the plate. Just wasn’t commanding both sides of the plate. That’s something I need to work on moving forward. Threw both my breaking pitches tonight. Threw my changeup, but yeah, I’d say fastball command is something I need to work on.”
“He’s still growing,” Ross said. “I’ll talk to him and we’ll reassess after the off-day. . . . I think there’s a huge upside potential in there. But tonight, I don’t think it was his best.”
The Cubs were unable to capture their first sweep since June 11-13 against the Cardinals. But they won just their fourth series since the All-Star break after taking the first two games of the series.