Offense takes night off in Cubs’ 6-0 loss to Guardians

After long rain delay, Cody Bellinger has three of the Cubs’ five hits

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Seiya Suzuki

Seiya Suzuki #27 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after striking out in the sixth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Wrigley Field on July 1, 2023 in Chicago

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

One out from completing a perfect first turn through the Guardians batting order Saturday, Marcus Stroman made a rare mistake — a walk to No. 9 hitter Bo Naylor — and was punished for it. Amed Rosario ripped a two-out, two-run single two batters later to put Cleveland up in the third.

One out from Stroman completing six strong innings, the wheels fell off entirely for the Cubs (38-43) in a 6-0 loss; the fifth defeat in their last six games.

Andres Giménez ended Stroman’s night with an RBI single to right. And rather than stop the bleeding there, both of Stroman’s inherited runners scored on back-to-back singles off reliever Julian Merryweather; the latter of which snuck under Cody Bellinger’s glove in center for a run-scoring error as the game sailed out of reach.

“Just a weird one, I felt like I pitched a lot better than my line,” said Stroman, who was charged with five earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and reported no ill effects from the blister on his right index finger that forced him to leave his last start early.

In between those outbursts, fans who waited through a two hour and forty-five minute rain delay at Wrigley Field saw very little strung together, or driven in the air, by the Cubs’ offense.

Talented rookie Tanner Bibee matched a career-high with nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. Just as confounding, a would-be Bellinger fly out to left-center that dropped due to a defensive miscommunication in the second and Jared Young’s lineout to right to strand two runners in the fourth registered as the only Cubs batted balls that made it to the outfield on the fly against the Cleveland starter.

“That fastball was real,” said Cubs manager David Ross of Bibee. “We didn’t get anything going offensively.”

After a 10-run outburst against Cal Quantrill and company on Friday, the Cubs’ offensive struggles against right-handed pitching resurfaced. All of their five hits on the night came from the left side of the plate.

By OPS, the Cubs entered Saturday night 17th in baseball against right-handed pitching, and 39 points worse than they fare against southpaws. Almost all of that platoon split is accounted for by lesser power production against righties.

Before the game, Ross acknowledged the Cubs’ lineup is not suited to outslug the opposition on most nights, but needs timely hitting to take advantage of the fifth-best on-base percentage in the National League.

On Saturday night, Cubs hitters went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Stroman’s ERA rose to 2.76, eighth-best among qualified starters in MLB. Adding a pair of singles to his bloop double, Bellinger had the only Cubs multi-hit performance and extended his active hitting streak to seven games.

“I love our team,” said Stroman when asked to assess the Cubs after 81 games. “I feel like things haven’t gone our way at all, but the commitment, the drive and the attention to detail are all there.”

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