Cubs show heart, but fall after Alzolay's exit

Chicago out-hits Miami, 18-12, but early deficit too much to overcome

August 14th, 2021

MIAMI -- The Cubs are hoping they avoided a serious injury to starting pitcher Adbert Alzolay. They couldn’t, however, escape the Marlins’ hot bats in the process, falling 14-10 on Friday night in the first of a three-game series at loanDepot park.

Alzolay left the game after recording one out in the second inning because of left hamstring tightness. The extent of the injury was not known immediately after the game.

“I don’t know, I haven’t talked to Adbert yet. I have no idea,” manager David Ross said.

The righty had surrendered a 4-1 lead when Miami’s Bryan De La Cruz belted his first career grand slam to put the Marlins ahead for good.

Two batters later, Alzolay felt some discomfort after running the count to 2-1 on Isan Díaz. Time was called and catcher Robinson Chirinos, who later smacked a fifth-inning solo homer and went 4-for-6 on the night, immediately headed to the mound. Trainers followed to talk with Alzolay, who was unable to continue, but managed to walk back to the dugout without assistance. He exited the game after 1 1/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on five hits with one strikeout and a walk.

Alzolay legged out a double in the top of the second inning and could have suffered the injury then. 

Chirinos said he didn’t see anything that might indicate an injury.  

“The only thing I saw in that inning, the slider was more side to side, so he was trying to pitch through [the pain],” Chirinos said. “Hopefully, he’ll wake up and feel better tomorrow. It’s really tough. That guy is so competitive. He wants to give this team a chance to win a game. You can see the pain through his eyes and how he felt when he came out from that game.” 

The Marlins went on to score 11 runs in the inning, tying a club record. The Cubs allowed 10 runs in the eighth inning to the Brewers on June 28. The last time the club recorded two innings surrendering double-digit runs in the same season was in 1975. That year, they allowed 10 runs against the Expos on June 25 in the seventh inning and 10 runs to the Phillies on Aug. 5 in the first inning.

The majority of the damage on Friday was yielded by Dan Winkler, who entered in relief of Alzolay. Winkler faced seven batters and did not record an out. He gave up six earned runs on four hits, including a homer to Marlins catcher Alex Jackson, hit two batters and walked another.

Alzolay’s career-high losing streak was extended to nine games. He hasn’t gotten the win in his last 11 starts. The last time Alzolay recorded a victory was June 2 against the Padres.

It was the ninth consecutive loss for the Cubs, who are now 1-11 in the month of August, and 2-12 since the Trade Deadline.

The Cubs didn’t go down without a fight, however. In fact, they out-hit the Marlins, 18-12, and were led by Chirinos, who nearly hit for the cycle. He was a triple away and almost got it when he banged one off the fence in the top of the eighth, but he ended up holding at second. 

“I knew in that at-bat I needed a triple for the cycle,” Chirinos said. They did everything right, fielded it clean and threw it back to the infield and at that point, I was like, ‘I have to stop at second base.’”

David Bote was able to shake off the doldrums of a .158 (3-for-19) homestand. The Cubs’ second baseman clubbed a long first-inning, two-run homer to left field off Marlins starter Jesús Luzardo. It got out in a hurry, too. Statcast measured the blast at 423 feet with a launch angle of 27 degrees and an exit velocity of 107.3 mph.

It was one of two hits for Bote, who went 2-for-4.

Frank Schwindel and Ian Happ each belted two-run homers in the eighth to spark a rally for the Cubs, who were in a 14-5 deficit, and make things a little bit interesting, though they ultimately fell short.

Ross likes what he’s seen from Schwindel, who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

“He hits to all parts of the field,” Ross said. “He stays through the baseball, he’s on time. I think that’s a good start to being a good hitter. He’s making great contact.” 

Chirinos likes the fight in this team and the effort that’s being put in. 

“I know this whole team has been battling,” he said. “It’s been really hard the last couple of weeks, but we’re doing everything we can to put everything together to win. Hopefully, we can turn things around and start winning games.”