The Cubs were swept by the rival Cardinals (Jeff Curry - USA Today Sports)
The Cubs were swept by the rival Cardinals (Jeff Curry - USA Today Sports)

Cubs with only two hits in another loss to Cardinals


by - Senior Writer -

ST. LOUIS - When the Chicago Cubs (41-63) traded away the entire back half of their bullpen at the trade deadline, many fans felt the second half of the season would be an epic struggle. Not only did they give away pieces that helped the Cubs post a 1.35 ERA over a 15-game stretch, but tons of new faces would be joining the Cubs to perform unfamiliar roles.

The only good thing that can come from that is that these roles will be served as a learning experience for 2023 and beyond as the Cubs continue to go through their rebuilding process. After dropping game one of Thursday's doubleheader to the St. Louis Cardinals (57-48), the teams returned to Busch Stadium for the nightcap of the day-night doubleheader.

In what was a pitcher's duel most of the night that saw things tied 2-2 in the seventh, it was the Cubs bullpen that let one get away again, with Tyler O'Neill delivering the eventual game-winning homer to help the Cardinals sweep the Cubs 7-2. Not only that, but St. Louis is starting to catch fire at the right time as they have moved into a tie for first with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Sean Newcomb made his first start of the season as he was added to the roster to take the place of David Bote. Despite only lasting three innings, Newcomb pitched well as he surrendered a two-run homer before handing things off to Mark Leiter Jr and the rest of the Cubs pen. Opposing Newcomb was the former Chicago Cub Jose Quintana, as the Cardinals recently picked him up at the trade deadline.

Granted, his time with the Cubs was an up and down tenure; Quintana has been excellent all season as he lowered his ERA to 3.39 following six innings of one-hit ball with seven strikeouts. Unfortunately for him, that hit led to a run, with Patrick Wisdom teeing off for his 20th homer in the first inning to give the Cubs another early lead.

Like in their first game earlier in the day, the Cardinals used the long ball to battle back, with Nolan Arenado taking Newcomb deep in the bottom of the first to put the Cardinals in front 2-1. Take away that homer from Wisdom, and Quintana was nearly perfect as he didn't allow another hit the rest of the way and was dominating Cubs hitters all game.

For Newcomb, he was forced to maneuver around plenty of traffic, but did what he needed to do in his three innings to keep things close and give the Cubs a chance. After Newcomb's outing on the mound, Leiter Jr entered the game out of the pen and was forced to work around traffic. That included a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the fifth where he managed to work out of that jam without allowing a run.

With Quintana now out of the game in the seventh, it became a battle of the bullpens, with Jordan Hicks the first out of the pen for St. Louis. The flame-throwing right-hander has had some command issues, and after walking Wisdom and Seiya Suzuki to open the seventh, you could see why. The Cubs made Hicks pay for those walks as Nelson Velazquez picked up an RBI infield single to tie things up 2-2 as the Cubs continued to battle back.

Unfortunately for them, that would be the last of their offense as it was up to newly acquired Kevin Castro to keep things close in the bottom of the seventh. Talk about a nightmare scenario. Not only did he allow a leadoff single to Tommy Edman, but he walked Paul Goldschmidt before a clutch double play had him on the verge of getting out of things.

That was until another walk to Nolan Gorman extended the inning before O'Neill delivered the big blow as his three-run shot proved to be the game-winner with the Cardinals now in front 5-2. St. Louis continued to add to their lead in the eighth inning off Matt Dermody as a pair of early base runners would come home on the Edman double, pushing the Cardinals lead to 7-2.

With Chris Stratton on the mound to pitch the ninth, the Cubs tried to make things interesting with Willson Contreras and Wisdom starting things off with a pair of walks to put two runners on with no outs. Like they have done so often this season, the Cubs could not cash in with that opportunity as a game-ending double play from Nico Hoerner solidified the sweep with the Cardinals winning 7-2. Chicago had just two hits in the game with those belonging to Wisdom and Velazquez.

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