On the 30th-straight day, Hamels and the Cubs get blown out by the Diamondbacks

during the MLB game at Chase Field on September 19, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona.

PHOENIX – Ever since they lost their off day on September 13th to make up a game with the Nationals, they had this moment circled on their calendar.

A Wednesday night game against the Diamondbacks would be the 30th and final consecutive day which the Cubs have gone without a scheduled day off. It started on August 21st in Detroit, and spanned the next month as make-up games made an already busy stretch borderline unbearable.

But finally, on Thursday, the Cubs don’t have to play. They’ll fly back from Phoenix late Wednesday night, have all day Thursday to themselves in Chicago, then a short trip South to Guaranteed Rate Field to start their second city series against the White Sox late Friday afternoon.

There’s no doubt the Cubs were aware of this very much when they took the field for the last game of the stretch against an Arizona team that’s faded from the playoff race. But during a stretch where they’ve managed to play solid baseball despite the limited time off, the last day would end up being a dud.

For the first time since putting on a Cubs’ uniform, Cole Hamels had a dud. A good offense over the last two games in Arizona faded away, and with Brewers winning in Milwaukee, the Cubs lead in the NL Central was cut to 2 1/2 games in a 9-0 drubbing by the Diamondbacks to end a daunting string of games.

Good news for the Cubs is that they are now off for a day and they won’t have to leave Chicago for the rest of the regular season, yet the finish off the long stretch still fully engaged in a fight for their third-straight NL Central crown. An 18-11 record during the last month has the team with a Magic Number of eight for that championship.

The 29th and final game of the stretch was one of the few really bad days of the trip, as Hamels for the first time struggled as a Cubs’ starter. Christian Walker hit a three-run homer for the Diamondbacks in the first inning and Chris Owings added to the miserable start with an RBI single.

Hamels settled in after that till the sixth when Arizona struck in a hurry again. Nick Ahmed got an RBI hit with one out and then Owings added a two-run homer to make it 7-0 and end the pitcher’s bad day. It was his first loss in ten starts with the Cubs, and the seven earned runs were double the most he’d allowed in a single game with the team so far.

As the for the offense, which scored 14 runs in the previous two games, they managed only one hit from Addison Russell over nine innings.

Perhaps this one will fade away more quickly considering the excitement of an elusive day off that the Cubs have now arrived at on Thursday. It was a bad finish to a rather strong stretch of games which very few have been through in the MLB and almost everyone hopes they’ll never have to endure.