SAN FRANCISCO – Getting off to a solid start on a road trip would be a good way to help reverse a bad trend for the 2019 season.
The Cubs came their game against the Giants at Oracle Park with just 18 road wins on the season, which is tied for lowest in the National League. It’s a complete reversal from the previous four years under Joe Maddon and the opposite of their performance at Wrigley Field the first three-and-a-half months of the season. A win to open up a nine-game road trip wouldn’t solve all those issues, but it would bring a positive boost to the team’s road woes in 2019.
Unfortunately, the Cubs only had seven innings of that good beginning before things got away again.
Up by three runs early then by two in the eighth inning, the Giants spoiled the effort by the Cubs on Monday night in San Francisco, getting three runs off Pedro Strop to take the lead for good in a 5-4 victory. They now drop to 18-28 on the road, and with the Cardinals’ win over the Pirates, the Cubs’ lead in the NL Central is down to just one game.
Monday’s loss came down to one bad inning for Strop, who is in the midst of a rough month out of the bullpen. He surrendered four hits in the frame, starting off with a Pedro Sandoval double, which after a strikeout, was followed by an RBI single by Brandon Crawford. After Strop got another out, the Giants got back-to-back RBI doubles from Austin Slater and Joe Panik to give San Francisco the lead for the first time all night.
It continues a rough July for Strop, who came into the game allowing four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings with two blown saves along with a 5.40 ERA. Either way, it forced the Cubs to rally for the first time all night, and despite two runners reaching with two out against Sam Dyson, Kyle Schwarber flied out to end the game.
The result was much different than the outfielder might have envisioned when Schwarber along with Robel Garcia hit solo homers in the first three innings to give the Cubs the lead. Albert Almora’s RBI single in the fourth put the Cubs up by three before San Francisco got two runs back in the bottom half of that inning and the fifth. In the 8th, Anthony Rizzo gave the visitors some breathing room with an RBI double of his own to make it 4-2, but it wasn’t enough after Strop struggled in the 8th.
It was the only real problematic inning for any Cubs’ pitcher as the staff held down the Giants for most of the night. Starting for a second time with Cole Hamels remaining on the disabled list, Alec Mills allowed two runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts compared to one walk as Kyle Ryan, Brad Brach, and Steve Cishek held the lead after that till the 8th.
But like all season on the road, something went wrong for the Cubs, and it led to another baffling defeat away from Wrigley Field.