Cubs suffer crushing defeat after late mistakes
The vibes were about as high as they could be for the Cubs to start the evening in Atlanta.
The Cubs scored twice in the top of the 2nd, twice more in the 3rd and added solo tallies in the 4th and 5th innings, building a 6-0 lead over the powerhouse Braves.
Then the wheels came off.
The Braves scored 7 unanswered runs, the last 2 coming on a dropped fly ball by Seiya Suzuki in the bottom of the 8th inning.
With the Cubs clinging to a 1-run lead, Drew Smyly was called on to try to toss up another zero in the 8th. He walked 2 of the first 3 batters, putting runners at second and third with 1 out.
Smyly got a clutch strikeout and then induced a routine fly ball from Braves catcher Sean Murphy.
Suzuki glided over to right-center and had a bead on the ball, calling off Cody Bellinger. But at the last second, the ball sailed past Suzuki’s glove and just like that, the Braves had the lead.
The Cubs offense was in cruise control early in the game but they were unable to add on late in the game, stranding 9 runners in the game.
“Just gotta get some guys out,” David Ross told reporters after the game. “Seiya has been carrying for us a month-and-a-half offensively. He’s put us on his back. A lot of guys have been scuffling and he’s been the guy swinging the bat the best.
“We’re not gonna highlight one mistake. There’s other areas — we could’ve scored more runs. There’s guys on third, less than 2 outs. We could’ve made some pitches earlier in the game, but we didn’t. Gotta pick our heads up, go back out tomorrow.”
Justin Steele and José Cuas combined to surrender 3 runs in the 6th inning. In the 7th, Javier Assad walked the leadoff batter and then gave up an opposite field 2-run shot to MVP candidate Ronald Acuña Jr.
Suzuki had 2 hits in the game, including a 2-run triple.
The loss dropped the Cubs to 82-75 on the season and into the third Wild Card spot, behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Marlins were rained out Tuesday, meaning the Cubs still hold a half-game lead over Miami for the final playoff spot in the NL.
Both the Diamondbacks and Marlins hold tiebreakers over the Cubs.
With the Cubs’ loss, the Brewers officially clinched the National League Central.