If I told you the Cubs were going to hit four homers, a double, two singles, take five walks, and get hit by a pitch, you’d probably figure they won going away.
They did do those things, but they did not do that second thing.
The reason, of course, was a clunker of an outing on the pitching side, including trouble right out of the gate for John Lackey, who had trouble finding the zone – a zone that would later see Joe Maddon ejected for arguing – and gave up four runs before the Cubs had taken their second at bat. He allowed two more before finishing six innings, and then the bullpen allowed another three runs. (Added ugliness: Billy Hamilton scoring from second base on a pitch that got to the backstop.)
The offense did eventually muster some runs, but they came exclusively on the strength of those homers because the Cubs once again did diddlypoo with runners in scoring position. I remain of the mind that there’s not a ton you can do to “fix” that issue, but I also remain of the mind that the lack of production in those spots is absolutely killing the Cubs in this ugly stretch of baseball.
The other problem for the Cubs in this one is that they ran into literally the only pitcher in the Reds’ bullpen who hasn’t contributed meaningfully to their historic awfulness. That’s a long way of saying Raisel Iglesias is actually rather good, which didn’t help the Cubs in their failed later-inning scoring chances. Neither did a truly questionable decision to have Javy Baez bunt with two on and none out in the 6th inning, but the Cubs ultimately lost by four, so I’m just gonna cool down.