(Photo credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
The visiting Chicago Cubs will try to bounce back from a late-inning collapse on Tuesday and remain in control of their wild-card destiny when they play the Atlanta Braves in the second game of a three-game series on Wednesday night.
The Cubs squandered a six-run lead and lost 7-6 when right fielder Seiya Suzuki whiffed on a fly ball in the eighth inning. The two-run error allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score.
The stunning loss dropped the Cubs (82-75) into the final National League wild-card spot, one game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks (83-74) and only a half-game ahead of the Miami Marlins (81-75), who had their scheduled game at the New York Mets rained out on Tuesday.
"We're not going to highlight one mistake," Chicago manager David Ross said. "There's other areas. We could have scored more runs. There's guys on third, less than two outs. We could have made some pitches earlier in the game, but we didn't. Got to pick our heads up, go back out (Wednesday)."
Suzuki has been one of the team's biggest offensive contributors. He hit a two-run triple in the loss and is hitting .364 (51-for-140) over his past 37 games.
"Seiya has been carrying us for a month-and-a-half offensively," Ross said. "He's put us on his back. A lot of guys have been scuffling, and he's been the guy swinging the bat the best."
Atlanta (101-56) is four games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers (97-60) in the race for the best overall record to secure home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs. With one more win, the Braves would achieve that goal.
Chicago will send veteran Jameson Taillon (8-10, 5.05 ERA) to the mound to face Atlanta rookie Darius Vines (1-0, 4.40) on Wednesday in a matchup of right-handers.
Over his past three appearances, Taillon is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA. In his latest start, on Friday against the Colorado Rockies, he pitched six scoreless innings and struck out seven on his way to a 6-0 win.
"This team went out and got me for a reason, and I had an opportunity to go out and kind of prove them right," said Taillon, who was signed as a free agent during the offseason. "Having a good game on a day like (Friday) when we really needed (it) felt really good."
Taillon has not faced the Braves this season. In two career starts vs. Atlanta, he is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA. The victory came on Aug. 31, 2018, when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Vines has made four appearances, one start, for the Braves since being recalled in late August. He won his major league debut against Colorado, allowing two runs over six innings. His past three appearances came in relief, the latest on Friday at Washington, when he pitched 3 1/3 innings and allowed three runs. Vines has never faced the Cubs.
The Braves hit two homers on Tuesday, giving them 301 for the year. They are the third team to reach 300 in a season. Atlanta is six homers short of tying the major league record set by the 2019 Minnesota Twins.
Atlanta first baseman Matt Olson delivered a run-scoring single in the series-opening win, boosting his major-league-best RBI total to 134. That leaves him one short of matching the modern-era franchise record (since 1900) set by Eddie Mathews in 1953.
With a 19-RBI lead this season on the next-closest player, the New York Mets' Pete Alonso, Olson is set to become the first Brave since Hank Aaron in 1966 to top the majors in RBIs.
--Field Level Media