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Long ball an issue for Cubs pitching as they drop series opener to Diamondbacks

10 months agoAndy Martinez

The wind seemed to indicate that even if you hit the ball right, it might not go out Thursday night at Wrigley Field. 

Tommy Pham and Ketel Marte showed otherwise.

The duo hit 3 home runs — Pham with his 10th multi-home run game of his career — as the Diamondbacks beat the Cubs 6-2 in the series opener at Wrigley Field. The loss moves the Cubs two games behind the idle Brewers in the NL Central and the Phillies for the top Wild Card spot and reduces their lead over Arizona to 3 games in the Wild Card standings. 

Tonight was a weird one, right? I thought we hit some balls really hard, all the way to the track,” manager David Ross said. “Just offensively, couldn’t get anything really going. But I didn’t think we had bad at-bats.”

Arizona started the night with a pair of flyball outs off starter Javier Assad. With the wind blowing in, it seemed like the outfielders would catch be able to snag a few more flyballs than they’d expect. 

The third hitter of the game, Pham, hit a flyball that wouldn’t find an outfielder’s glove, staking the Diamondbacks to a 1-0 lead. Two innings later, Marte hit a 2-run shot off Assad.

Command looked to be an issue for the first time in awhile,” Ross said. “Couldn’t really sync up, got a little bit better there towards the end, but just didn’t look like he had his command tonight.”

For Diamondbacks’ starter Ryne Nelson, that was plenty of offensive support. 

The righty was able to keep the Cubs’ in the park and no-hit them for 4.1 innings before Seiya Suzuki hit a 1-out triple in the 5th off the wall. He scored a batter later on a Jeimer Candelario sacrifice fly. Nico Hoerner had a 2-out double in the 6th to bring the tying run up to the plate, but Ian Happ was called out on a check swing for the final out of the frame. 

In the 8th, Pham’s second home run of the night — this one off Keegan Thompson — essentially put the game out of reach. Arizona added another insurance run in the 9th on an RBI single from Marte. The Arizona duo combined to go 4-for-9 and drove in all of their team’s runs in the win. 

The Cubs made things interesting in the 9th. Hoerner had a 1-out single, advanced to second two batters later on a Cody Bellinger single and then scored on a Dansby Swanson single. They had the tying runner on deck against closer Paul Sewald, but he induced a groundball out fromSuzuki to end the game. 

Assad had a quality start in all but two of his outings in the rotation entering Thursday’s game. It was his third start not recording a quality start as the righty allowed 3 runs on 7 hits in 5.1 innings. 

“Definitely we battled with the command, struggled with the command today,” Assad said. “Tried to take it inning by inning, but tried to maintain the score as low as possible, but definitely struggled with the command today.”

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