Cubs Drop Pair of Games, Playoff Hopes Diminish

After losing both games of a series ending double-header, the South Bend Cubs are now 1 ½ games out behind the Dayton Dragons for a first-half playoff spot.

By Stephen Cabe / South Bend Cubs | June 15, 2017 11:36 PM ET

SOUTH BEND, IN - The South Bend Cubs dropped a pair of games by scores of 8-5 and 6-1 to the Lansing Lugnuts on Thursday night after Wednesday evening's ballgame was postponed due to stormy conditions in the area.

South Bend lost the first game of the double header 8-5 after blowing a two run lead in the sixth inning. Likewise, the Lugnuts also outhit the Cubs 14-5 in the shortened seven-inning game while both teams made one error in the field.

The Cubs' offense went cold in Game 2 only tallying one run on four collective hits. The team also left 10 runners on base, three of which were in scoring position, as they have continued to struggle capitalizing in similar situations throughout much of this season.

Had the Cubs gone on to win both games they would have jumped the Dayton Dragons in the standings and moved into position to receive the second playoff spot with three games remaining until the top two teams in each division are rewarded with a playoff birth.

GAME 1: South Bend got on the board early with two runs in the first inning coming off the bats of Vimael Machin and newly added infielder Adonis Paula. The Cubs also stole two bases in the inning to move both runners into scoring position.

But before the game got too out of hand, the Lugnuts went on to take the lead in the top of the third after hitting three doubles and a single.

The game remained 3-2 in Lansing's favor until the bottom of the fourth when South Bend struck for three runs to make it a 5-3 ballgame with three innings remaining.

First it was Chris Pieters who tripled with one out just before Paula hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game 3-3. Then after two back-to-back walks, Luis Ayala legged out a ground ball hit to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at third base to score Michael Cruz.

On the same play, Guerrero Jr.'s throw sailed into the padded wall down the first base line to allow Jhonny Pereda to cross the plate for the third run of the inning.

Then in the top of the sixth, sparked by Bo Bichette's solo shot, Lansing took the lead on a series of hits. After the homer, Lansing added two singles, which prompted the Cubs to pull Duncan Robinson from the mound in favor of Jared Cheek, but the Lugnuts would go on to add four more runs to take a commanding 8-5 lead.

Due to the short nature of the game, the Cubs could not come back in the final two innings and consequently dropped the first game of the double header.

GAME 2: The game remained scoreless until Lansing overtook the Cubs with two runs in the third inning behind Bo Bichette's double.

The game later got ugly in the top of the fourth when Lansing added another three runs on a single, a walk, and a double that was followed by a throwing error to allow J.B. Woodman to round all four bases and score on his own hit after starting pitcher Erling Moreno failed to backup the catcher.

The Cubs did manage to score one run in the fifth inning thanks to Vimael Machin's RBI-single, but the Lugnuts' early five run lead would lead to the Cubs' downfall in Game 2 for their second loss of the night.

BICHETTE ON FIRE VS CUBS: After going 1-6 in the first game of the series, Bichette returned to his normal hot-hitting self in Game 1 going 4-4 with 2 runs scored and 2 RBI including a key home run that sparked Lansing's Game 1 comeback.

Picking up where he left off in Game 2, Bichette singled and doubled in his first two plate appearances while also picking up his third RBI of the night in his second at-bat to give Lansing the first lead of Game 2. Also adding a single in his final at-bat of the evening Bichette single-handedly led the Lugnuts offense to both victories in the double-header.

In nine games played against the Cubs entering tonight's play, Bichette hit .361 with four doubles, two homers, and four RBI's against the Cubs.

After tonight's double-header, Bichette had added seven hits and five RBI's to his totals against the Cubs this season.

WHEN HE WALKS HE SCORES: After starting the game with a leadoff walk, Zack Short stole second base and then scored on Vimael Machin's RBI-single. With the first inning walk, Short earned his Midwest League leading 49th walk of the season.

Short has led the category almost all year, while commonly producing leadoff walks. Nevertheless, his splits against righties are drastically different than lefties, as he has tallied 43 of his 49 walks against right-handed pitchers.

After tonight's ballgames, he is 20 walks away from moving into 10th place on South Bend's all-time records list for most walks in a single season.

WHAT'S NEXT:

Cubs: South Bend continues their home stand with a three game series against the Lake County Captains with just three games remaining before the first half playoff spots are determined. Tomorrow night's first pitch is scheduled for 7:35 PM.

Lugnuts: Unfortunately for Lansing, the Toronto Blue Jays Midwest League affiliate will be tasked with taking on the Midwest League's best team, West Michigan Whitecaps in their last three games before the end of the first half.

 

Photo credit: Emma Reese

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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