Cubs get to Bieber, but not enough to avoid loss
If this was a pitching match between Adbert Alzolay and Shane Bieber, with three judges standing on the side to determine a winner, Alzolay probably would have received a unanimous decision.
But the only judge that counts is the scoreboard. So even though Alzolay may have technically outpitched Bieber on Tuesday, the Cubs finished on the short end of a 3-2 loss in Cleveland.
The Cubs collected 9 hits against the American League's reigning Cy Young Award winner, including 3 doubles and a home run. But they went 1-for-12 on the night with runners in scoring position.
Cleveland's only damage against Alzolay came on two swings, but both were home runs on 3-2 pitches, by Jose Ramirez and Cesar Hernandez, to account for 3 runs. Cleveland batters went 1-for-2 with runners in scoring position.
"Today was a good day in the beginning. just missing two pitches on 3-2 counts," Alzolay said. "That happens when you're in the big leagues and miss at those locations against good hitters. But overall, I felt really good. Threw some more change-ups today, which was good."
Alzolay completed 6 innings with 5 hits, no walks and 6 strikeouts. The other baserunner that scored ahead of Hernandez' go-ahead home run came on a pitch that hit the nob of Andres Gimenez' bat and needed a replay review before he was awarded first base.
Catcher Willson Contreras said after the game his primary message for Alzolay was to slow down, because he tended to get excited whenever he got two strikes on a batter and hurried into the next pitch.
On the other side, the Cubs loaded the bases with nobody out against Bieber in the second inning and scored just 1 run on a Contreras RBI single. In the third, Kris Bryant doubled with one out, but was erased in a line drive double play. In the fourth, the Cubs put the first two runners on base and couldn't score.
Their second run of the game came on a solo home run by Eric Sogard, which temporarily put the Cubs up 2-1 in the fifth.
"It definitely is a missed opportunity," Cubs manager David Ross said. "We had really good at-bats throughout the game. I was pleased overall with how the offense attacked some really good pitching tonight."
A strikeout, caught-stealing double play might have cost the Cubs a run in the seventh, because Matt Duffy followed with a single and the right fielder misplayed the ball for an error.
In the ninth, Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase threw his first 11 pitches at either 100 or 101 miles per hour. He struck out Sogard, then Joc Pederson and Nick Martini singled to put two runners on. But Duffy, who's had a number of clutch hits the last two weeks, ended it by grounding into a double play.
Bryant left the game in the sixth inning due to an illness, but Ross didn't think it was cause for concern.
"I think he's just a little under the weather, was having trouble breathing out there and was dealing with some sinus stuff for a couple innings and wasn't getting better," Ross said. "We got a little bug going around the clubhouse for a little while now. Hopefully it's nothing major."