Alzolay labors in LA: 'Trash it and move on'

Cubs held in check by Kershaw, lose series

June 28th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- Before the start of Sunday’s game, manager David Ross said the Cubs were in a good place given how they’ve played in the past two weeks. The statement still held true following a 7-1 loss to the Dodgers.

Entering the four-game series at Dodger Stadium, the Cubs were one-half game back of first place in the National League Central. But the series finale loss marked the third consecutive defeat at the hands of the Dodgers, forcing them three games out of first in the division.

While the pitching was the star on Thursday with a combined no-hitter, things faltered in the following games. The offense struggled to string together enough runs to support the arms on the mound.

Right-hander was tasked with salvaging the series split in his second start since being activated from the 10-day injured list. His outing, however, lasted only three innings as he surrendered six runs (four earned) in the second inning alone.

“[He] just wasn't sharp. It looked like his command was off,” Ross said. “I just felt like his rhythm, in general, synching up his mechanics just leading to sporadic command. [His] slider really didn't look like it had a lot of shape to it, either. He was battling himself out there … but he just wasn't able to find it.”

Alzolay was coming off a 4 2/3-inning performance against Cleveland in which he allowed three earned runs on three hits. The 26-year-old had faced the Dodgers earlier in the season, yielding only two runs in five innings with seven strikeouts. But entering Sunday, he had an 8.22 ERA in his two previous starts.

The second inning started with Alzolay’s sinker running in and hitting Matt Beaty on the first pitch of the at-bat. He proceeded to walk Chris Taylor and Gavin Lux to load the bases for Zach McKinstry. Alzolay’s slider didn’t break enough on the lower inside corner of the zone, leaving it in a spot for McKinstry to hit a grand slam.

Chicago nearly escaped the inning with no further damage, but Javier Báez’s 14th error this season changed matters. Mookie Betts slapped a ground ball to Báez, who picked up the grounder on a hop and fired it to Anthony Rizzo at first, but the ball dropped several feet short of Rizzo, who couldn’t dig it out the dirt. It kept the inning going for Cody Bellinger to hit his second long ball in as many nights, a two-run homer.

Alzolay took the mound in the third and gave up a leadoff single and issued his first balk of the season. He was tagged for eight hard-hit balls of the 11 that went into play.

"To be honest, this one in particular, I just want to trash it and move on. I feel in my personal opinion, there are no good takeaways that I can take from this game," Alzolay said. "My body was completely out of rhythm today. I couldn't find it. [I] just have to move on from this one and keep working for the next one.”

Alzolay said during the postgame Zoom session with reporters that his prior issues with a blister didn’t contribute to his lack of command in the zone on Sunday. Alzolay only garnered three whiffs among 29 swings on his five-pitch arsenal.

“I was feeling fine. Overall, everything was good,” Alzolay said. “I just couldn't find my rhythm in the game. I feel that my body was super slow to the home plate. I was throwing everything. I just couldn't find the rhythm.”

The six-run deficit was too deep for the Cubs, as Báez provided the lone run with his 18th home run. It was the second-hardest-hit ball of the game as it left the bat at 106.9 mph and traveled 391 feet, per Statcast.

The Cubs head to Milwaukee to start a three-game series Monday against the first-place Brewers. They look to redeem themselves against their divisional rival, to whom they dropped six of nine games back in April, and break out of their three-game losing streak.