Bronx Bummer: Cubs routed again as Yankees sweep originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago:
NEW YORK – If this three-game weekend series in the Bronx was a measuring stick for the Cubs, the Yankees used it to beat them senseless with it.
An 18-4 loss Sunday when Keegan Thompson – who looked for two months like the Cubs’ best pitcher – could not finish the first inning left the Cubs looking 100 miles and at least $ 100 million from being able to compete for another championship.
It had a similar feel to the Dodgers’ sweep at Wrigley Field a month ago in which the Cubs were outscored 20-3.
Cubs manager David Ross, who agreed in May that the Dodgers showed where the Cubs stood, pushed back that the Yankees series showed the same thing.
“When you have a bad outing from the starting pitcher, sometimes it can get out of hand because you do not use the guys from the back end of the bullpen,” he said. “I think the first game of this series was a very good indication of how we’ve played up until really this road trip.
“I think consistency is what we’re trying to find, and when you play one of the best teams in baseball you realize we’ve got some areas we need to improve. You can not get behind the eight ball that much early on. ”
Which brings us back to Thompson, who entered with a 6-1 record and 3.17 ERA after his first bad outing, to open the trip in Baltimore. If the Cubs have pieces in house to build Jed Hoyer’s “next great Cubs team,” Thompson is supposed to be a candidate to be one of them.
Whether Saturday’s starter, rookie Matt Swarmer, is one or not, he was not competitive in a six-homer, short outing and 8-0 loss, either.
Which at least starts to tell a story of how far the Cubs are – regardless of how close the Cubs played the Yankees in a 13-inning loss Friday in which only one extra-inning run was scored by either team despite the free runner at second to open each extra frame.
The Yankees returned from a road trip after 4 am Friday, outlasted the Cubs in that one, then clubbed a youthful group of pitchers for nine home runs and 26 runs the next two days to sweep the three-game series and send the Cubs to their fourth, fifth and sixth consecutive losses.
The Yankees improved to an eye-popping 44-16 – six games better than any other team in the loss column, pending the Mets’ late game Sunday. The Cubs dropped to 13 games under .500 with the fifth-worst record in the majors – and with far more drama surrounding who gets sold off at the trade deadline than who looks like a piece of Hoyer’s NGCT.
At one point in the third inning Sunday, when Kyle Higashioka homered to make it 9-1, seven different Yankees had hit eight homers in an 11-inning span. Matt Carpenter hit his second of Sunday’s game in the sixth, and Higashioka added his second in the eighth – making it 10 homers in 16 innings.
As for the Cubs’ hitting, most of it wasn’t much better.
The Yankees led 12-4 by the time the Cubs recorded their first hit with a man in scoring position since Sunday – Ian Happ delivering a single with PJ Higgins at second base.
That snapped an 0-for-48 team skid with men in scoring position – the longest for the Cubs since that stat became officially available. And Cubs historian Ed Hartig informed the team that a search of his game logs revealed nothing that long going back as far as the late 1940s (with his records less reliable before that).
But it might have been a fielding play in the first inning that summed up the weekend, if not where these Cubs are compared to the top-performing teams in the game.
That’s when Marwin Gonzalez popped up a Thompson pitch in front of the plate with one out and two on.
Four Cubs converged, with a couple of them glancing at each other, before third baseman Patrick Wisdom got the privilege of dropping the ball off his glove for the error.
That loaded the bases, and one out later Joey Gallo doubled home two runs for a 5-0 lead to end Thompson’s shortest career start.
About the only thing worth continuing to watch in middle and late innings from a Cubs perspective, was the Happ cycle watch after he homered in the first and tripled in the fourth. He eventually walked and got his single, but was left on deck as Higgins lined out to end the game.
Which sent the Cubs home from a winless road trip and brought the season’s focus back to the trade-deadline watch.
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