Do All Roads Lead to Losses?

The I-Cubs headed to Memphis late last week with a road record that was the envy of their parents and a magic number of nine. Had they swept the four-game set with the Redbirds, they’d be returning home tonight with a chance to clinch their quarter of the PCL and lock in their spot in the divisional playoffs. Instead of the broomers, alas, they were doomed and got broomed.

Cubs @ Pirates: Series Thread (Games 122-124)

The Cubs may want to flee the state after that performance in Philadelphia, but they only make it as far as the western side of Pennsylvania. There, they find the last place Pirates waiting for them. The Pirates ended an 8-game skid by taking the first two in their last series, against the Angels. The Pittsburgh club is firmly in the role of spoiler following that 8-game losing streak and a 9-game losing streak that lead them into the trade deadline. The Cubs head into the series in a tie with the Cardinals and only 1 game ahead of the Brewers. See below for the matchups.

Cubs @ Phillies: Darvish vs. Smyly (Game 121)

CHC (65-56): RHP Yu Darvish (4-6, 4.43 ERA)
PHI (62-58): LHP Drew Smyly (2-6, 6.96 ERA)
First pitch 6:05pmCDT

Yu Darvish continued to get hurt by the long ball, allowing three homeruns in what seemed like it should have been a stellar start last time out. He struck out nine and walked none, but gave up three homeruns and four earned runs in Cincinnati. His strikeouts and walks have been trending in the ace direction for about two months. Citizen's Bank is not, however, a good place to hide out from the dinger. Harper is 0-2 with a walk against Darvish. Dickerson is 4-10 with a homerun, and Cesar Hernandez is 4-8 with a triple.

Cubs @ Phillies: Hamels vs. Nola (Game 120)

CHC (64-55): LHP Cole Hamels (6-3, 3.09 ERA)
PHI (61-58): RHP Aaron Nola (10-3, 3.67 ERA)
First pitch 6:05pmCDT

Hamels returns to his old stomping grounds for the first time as a visitor. He struggled in his last start, going only 3 innings and allowing five runs, four earned, in Cincinnati. Before that he was solid, and prior to that spent a month on the I.L. He got a no decision against the Phils on May 22 in his only start against his former team, allowing 3 earned runs on 9 hits in 4 innings. He's held Bryce Harper to 9-37 with one double and 8 walks. Realmuto is 4-11 with two doubles off of Hamels.

Cubs @ Phillies: Quintana vs. Vargas (Game 119)

CHC (64-54): LHP Jose Quintana (10-7, 4.23 ERA)
PHI (60-58): LHP Jason Vargas (6-6, 4.09 ERA)
First pitch 6:05pmCDT

The Cubs go to Philly with the Cardinals 2 back and the Brewers trailing by 2.5. It's long past time for this team to put their road struggles behind them if they are going to be taken serious as contenders this year. Quintana is a good candidate to help them get started. He's walked fewer and given up fewer homeruns on the road, and he's pitched 17.2 more innings on the road this season than he has at Wrigley. He was great last time out, allowing one earned run and striking out seven Athletics in seven innings pitched. Happ, Bryant, and Caratini backed him with homeruns in that Cubs win to clinch the series against Oakland. He had a no decision against the Phils on May 21, having allowed two unearned runs in six innings of work. Corey Dickers is 6-14 off of him with a homerun. Joey Bats is 2-26 with 11 strikeouts.

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