Cubs add catching depth, but lack offense in loss to Nationals

Considering how Christopher Morel and Matt Mervis have been blistering the ball at Triple A Iowa, it was odd that catcher Miguel Amaya was the first position prospect to get a promotion to the Cubs this season.

Amaya joined the Cubs on Tuesday in Washington because the team needed an extra catcher. A day earlier, Yan Gomes was hit in the head by a backswing and was shaken up. Gomes remained on the active roster, while Tucker Barnhart started at catcher and Mundelein native Ryan Borucki was designated for assignment.

Amaya didn't play and the Cubs lost to the Nationals 4-1, dropping to 4-8 in their last 12 games.

The Cubs just couldn't generate much offense against a couple of ex-Cubs pitchers. Nationals starter Trevor Williams was sharp, allowing no runs and 4 hits in 5⅓ innings. Then Carl Edwards Jr. came out of the bullpen to keep the Cubs off the scoreboard after they loaded the bases with one out in the sixth.

"I thought Trevor Williams threw really good, kept us off-balance," manager David Ross told reporters after the game. "The guys made some pitches when they had to. We've got to keep loading them up and good things will happen."

Amaya, a Panama native, was rated the Cubs' top prospect by MLB Pipeline in 2019. In '21, he was No. 3, but he's currently ranted No. 14. Amaya missed most of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He returned to play 28 games late in the season for Tennessee, all at DH.

This season, he was back playing catcher and was hitting .273 with 4 home runs. The Smokies are on the road in Huntsville, Ala., this week and Amaya said he was out food shopping at a convenience store when asked to report to manager Michael Ryan's office.

"I jumped to him, I hugged him and immediately called my parents," Amaya said about the moment he heard the news, according to "When they answered, they got shocked. Then they start crying, I start crying, too. It's something we've been waiting for so long."

Amaya's parents are planning to travel from Panama, couldn't get there in time for this game. They're hoping to be in the stands Wednesday.

"It hasn't been easy," Amaya said. "It's been a roller coaster, ups and downs, a lot of work mentally, of course physically. But this is something that gets us strong, positive every day and faithful. Happy to be here, joining the team and be with this beautiful team and be part of this group and help this team win."

The Cubs (15-14) scored their lone run on Patrick Wisdom's 11th home run leading off the seventh. In the bottom of the inning, Keegan Thompson gave up 3 runs on 4 hits, including a 2-run double by Alex Call, to break the 1-1 tie.

After being nearly untouchable early this season, this was the third straight outing when Thompson gave up a run. He was also the losing pitcher on Sunday in Miami, while his ERA has risen from 0.68 to 3.52 in the past six days.

Cubs starting pitcher Hayden Wesneski continued to trend in the right direction, allowing just 1 run over 6 innings, with 5 hits, no walks and 2 strikeouts.

Wesneski changed up his pitch mix for this game, throwing more change-ups (12) than he had all season combined, according to Statcast. He also used the sinker more often than usual.

"Everybody has a plan until you go out and don't have it," Wesneski said. "I had it (changeup) today and I was using it to my advantage.

"It's nice to be able to have confidence with it. It's one of those things that I know I can throw it, I just don't have confidence with it. It makes your life a lot easier against lefties when I have that pitch."

In minor league news, the Iowa Cubs were rained out in Columbus, so Kyle Hendricks' second Triple A start was pushed to Wednesday.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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Cubs starting pitcher Hayden Wesneski continued to trend in the right direction on Tuesday, allowing just 1 run over 6 innings, with 5 hits, no walks and 2 strikeouts. Associated Press
Cubs' Miguel Amaya smiles as he celebrates his run scored against the White Sox during a spring traning game. The Cubs brought up former No. 1-ranked prospect Amaya to add catching depth, but needed more offense during Tuesday's 4-1 loss to Washington. Associated Press
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