In one of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons, Bugs plays against a baseball team of lugs called the Gashouse Gorillas. At one point, the Gorillas form a conga line around the base path, swatting hit after hit, scoring run after run.
Tonight, the Chicago Cubs did their best Gashouse Gorillas impression during the second and third innings, conga lining for 10 runs. Not so amusing when the joke is on your hometown team.
Nothing went the Indians’ way tonight, starting in the first inning when Michael Brantley tried to score from second on a Ryan Raburn single. Instead of giving the Tribe an early lead, Brantley was thrown out at the plate. That would be the closest whiff of a scoring opportunity the Indians would see all night.
The blowout didn’t have to be this bad. In the second inning, the Cubs first hitter, Chris Coghlan, popped up a foul near the seats down the right field line. Brandon Moss charged in from right and called Jason Kipnis off the ball even though Kip was already in the vicinity to catch it. Moss never reached the ball and Coghlan stayed alive to start the inning with a single. Two batters later, Kyle Schwarber — a rookie from Middletown, Ohio — hit a burner down the first base line. The ball went under Carlos Santana‘s glove and all the way into the right field corner. It was scored a triple, but it easily could have been an out or even a double play. Instead of being out of the inning, the Cubs had their first two runs and continued to hit. Addison Russell and Anthony Rizzo each added two-run homers and the route was on as the Cubs plated 6 runs.
Tribe starter Shaun Marcum lasted only two innings. Nick Hagadone came on in the third and coughed up three straight singles without getting an out, but one was a broken bat wounded duck and another was a swinging bunt. Throw in an additional homer by Chris Denorfia and the Cubs scored another 4 runs. In the second and third innings alone, Chicago was credited with 12 hits — 3 homers, a triple, 2 doubles and 6 singles.
In the ninth inning, the fiasco turned into pure folly. After burning through 6 relievers, Terry Francona turned the ball over to Ryan Raburn then David Murphy in a decidedly non-save situation. Yes, Raburn and Murphy pitched the ninth! And Raburn almost got out of the inning without giving up more runs. Yet, this being “one of those nights,” Francisco Lindor lost a pop up in shallow center field and let the third out drop harmfully to the grass, plating two more runs and keeping the door open for more humiliation. Murphy ended up yielding a grand slam to Kris Bryant, capping off 7 unearned runs in the inning.
The Cubs’ line was 17 runs, 18 hits and no errors. Cleveland countered with 0 runs, 4 measly hits and 1 official error. Kipnis did continue his hitting streak to 12 games (and 21 home games) with an infield single in the sixth. Recent call-up Giovanny Urshela played stellar third base and collected another hit. Hey, bright spots were very hard to find tonight.
Sure, we all have “one of those nights” every once in a while. Especially in baseball. A 17-0 loss is the same “L” as a 1-0 loss, or a 17-16 loss, for that matter. You just have to shake it off and move on. But on a night when the Cubs were swinging hot lumber, it deeply contrasted a team that continues to feel like wet kindling. The Tribe just can’t seem to catch fire. And they dropped to 4 games under .500 again at 30-34.