Homer Bailey had been largely successful against the Chicago Cubs in 20 career starts – going 8-5 with a 4.86 ERA in 20 starts through a 12-year run with the Cincinnati Reds.
But two pitches went awry in Wednesday’s middle innings and torpedoed Bailey’s 21st career appearance and first for the A’s against the Cubs.
One resulted in a run-scoring single by Javier Baez and the second turned into a grand slam by Ian Happ in the fourth inning as the Cubs rolled to a 10-1 victory in the finale of the three-game series at Wrigley Field.
“That one inning kind of got away from us,” said Bailey. “There was a pitch to Baez and the one to Happ got a little higher than I wanted to. But outside of of those two pitches, that’s kind of what beat us.”
Chicago led 5-1 at that point and then added two other long balls, one off Lou Trivino and the other off Blake Treinen.
Bailey (9-8) worked 4 2/3 innings and was responsible for seven earned runs while allowing six hits and a walk in his fifth start since joining Oakland last month in a trade with the Royals.
“Actually, (Bailey’s) first three innings were pretty good,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “Maybe he didn’t have his put away pitch today – which may have cost him later – but I thought the first three innings he was sailing on pretty good like we’ve seen him when he’s been good.”
Bailey was quite familiar with the Cubs thanks to his long run with the Reds (2007-18).
Acquired from the Royals on July 14, he’s now 8-6 in 21 all-time appearances against Chicago and 5-4 in 10 starts at Wrigley Field. He hasn’t beaten the Cubs since April 20, 2014 and also suffered two losses against them in 2018.
Wednesday’s start was Bailey’s fifth with the A’s. He has three quality starts since July 17, but also allowed a combined 16 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings in two other starts.
Chicago left-hander Jose Quintana (10-7) pitched seven innings for the victory, allowing one run on two hits. He struck out seven and walked none.
“Obviously we didn’t have a very good time with him,” Melvin said. “Marcus (Semien) had a couple of good swings and that was about it. You don’t win many games when you get three hits. (Quintana’s) fastball, just enough change up and curve balls to keep us off balance.”
Nothing doing for A’s
The A’s main highlight came early as they broke a scoreless tie in the fourth. Marcus Semien doubled down the left field line, reached third on Matt Chapman’s sacrifice to right and came home for a 1-0 lead after Matt Olson delivered a sacrifice to the center field warning track.
The advantage was short-lived as the Cubs replied with a five-run fourth. Chicago added four more runs in the fifth and a single run in the eighth.
Back to American League
After three days playing in an unfamiliar National League park without a designated hitter, the A’s shift gears (but not cities) as they return to American League play on Friday afternoon against the Chicago White Sox.
That means the return of Khris Davis as DH after sitting out much of the Cubs series except for pinch hitting spots on Monday and Tuesday. Davis is batting .230 with 17 home runs and 53 RBIs through 96 games.
The A’s are 13-3 against the White Sox since 2017, including a three-game sweep at the Coliseum in the first meeting of the season in mid-July.
Semien stays hot
Semien went 2 for 4 with a double Wednesday — his 30th of the season — plus a run to extend his hitting streak to five games. Semien has now reached in 12 of 24 plate appearances and is batting .429 (9-for-21) in that stretch.
He has a .278 average for the season entering the weekend series with the White Sox, the team that drafted him and where he spent time in 2013 and 2014.
A’s right-hander Mike Fiers (10-3, 3.46 ERA) will have had five days rest as he opens the three-game series against the White Sox on Friday. Fiers is 8-0 with a 2.26 ERA and a .203 opponent’s batting average since tossing a no-hitter on May 7 against the Reds.
He’s 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in seven career starts against the White Sox. He earned his last win over the White Sox in a 5-1 decision at home on July 12, allowing no runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out four in a 7 2/3 inning outing.
Right-hander Tanner Roark (1-0, 1.80 ERA) is scheduled to work on Saturday while Chris Bassitt (7-5, 3.80 ERA) takes the mound for Sunday’s series finale.
Crash and catch
Even with padding, the brick wall along Wrigley Field’s left field line can be perilous. But left fielder Chad Pinder appeared to have easily handle a second inning encounter as he timed a leap and catch of Kyle Schwarber’s long fly ball to end the inning.
Pinder was none the worse for wear as hit the padding, then pushed away and ran back to the A’s dugout. He collected one of the A’s three hits, going 1 for 3 with a double.
Long wait for Wrigley?
If past scheduling is any indicator, the A’s might not come back to Wrigley Field until late in the next decade. Until this week, the A’s previous visit to Wrigley was in 2010. So if the pattern holds, their next trip to Chicago’s National League park might not come until 2028.