Chicago Cubs Score and Recap (4/8/24): Padres 9, Cubs 8 – Bullpen Meltdown Blows Eight-Run Lead

The Cubs got off to a tremendous start on Monday night in San Diego, racing out to an 8-0 lead by the 5th inning. Then the bullpen completely imploded and the Padres stormed all the way back in a demoralizing loss for Chicago.

Cubs hitters got to ex-teammate Yu Darvish for four runs in the top of the 2nd inning. Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger each had two-run singles with the bases loaded to jump ahead 4-0. Javier Assad got the start and did a terrific job keeping the Padres off the board through five innings.

Chicago doubled their advantage with another four-spot in the 4th inning. The big blows were on a Christopher Morel double and a triple off the bat of Dansby Swanson. Things seemed very comfortable with an 8-0 cushion and San Diego collecting only two hits.

Assad came out for the 6th but gave up a walk and allowed a two-run homer to Jake Cronenworth on his career-high 104th pitch of the game. Craig Counsell gave José Cuas another chance in what started as a low-leverage spot and it was a disaster. Cuas gave up three consecutive rockets with the final one being a two-run triple by Ha-Seong Kim, who then scored on a groundout.

After the side-arming righty gave up yet another single, he was replaced by Luke Little. Things did not get any better with Little, who got one out before Xander Bogaerts took him deep to cut the Padres’ deficit to 8-7.

Counsell brought on closer Adbert Alzolay in the 8th inning to try and protect the precarious one-run edge. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be as Fernando Tatís Jr. crushed a go-ahead bomb to left field. San Diego then closed out the 9th with no drama to take the 9-8 win. (Box score)

Key Moment

The Cubs were in excellent shape when Assad came out of the game with a six-run advantage the Cubs. Cuas came on and in about four pitches put that in immediate peril, things just went downhill from there.

Why the Cubs Lost

They got plenty of offense and a solid start but the relief unit blew up in spectacular fashion. Even though the hitters did not do much in the later innings, eight runs should be more than enough to win.

Stats That Matter

  • Assad’s performance will be mostly ignored now but he did a great job. When Justin Steele and Jameson Taillon come back from injury he’s going to be critical in the bullpen: 5 IP, 2 R, 3 H, 7 K, and 3 BB.
  • Happ got on base three more times Monday night as his hot start continues.
  • Seiya Suzuki also reached three times with two walks and a double.
  • Alzolay has blown two saves on home runs so far in 2024, hopefully not a trend that continues.

Bottom Line

There is no way to sugarcoat it, that game really sucked. The Cubs appear to have more than enough firepower offensively, however, the bullpen is a definite weak spot. Cuas just isn’t effective right now and there is no way he can stay on the roster. Expect to see a couple of roster moves Tuesday as Chicago tries to get some fresh arms.

On Deck

The Cubs try to bounce back in the second game of the series Tuesday night at 9:10pm CT. Ben Brown takes the mound against Joe Musgrove in a game available on TBS, Marquee, and 670 The Score.

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