Cubs’ Craig Counsell explains bullpen decisions in 3-2 loss to Rays


ST. PETERSBURG – With the bottom half of the Rays batting order coming up, in a two-run game, Cubs manager Criag Counsell called for right-handed reliever Mark Leiter Jr.

“They change out the bottom of their lineup quite a bit,” Counsell said after the Cubs’ 3-2 loss Thursday to the Rays. “We’ve got three innings to cover. Leiter’s been a guy that’s gotten big outs for us.”

The Rays rolled out a starting lineup with just one left-handed hitter, Brandon Lowe, against Cubs left-handed starter Justin Steele, who threw six scoreless innings.

The Cubs have mostly used Leiter in left-handed heavy pockets this year, but Counsell turned to him, rather than Tyson Miller, who has excelled against right-handers, because he expected the Rays would pinch hit with left-handed hitters. Indeed, they put in Josh Lowe and Ben Rortvedt.

Of the four balls the Rays put in play against Leiter, only one had an exit velocity over 75 mph. But Leiter issued a walk and gave up three runs to lose the lead.

“I let the team down,” Leiter said. “I didn’t make enough pitches; that’s it. We played a good enough game to win, and I put us in a bad spot.”

The Cubs’ only runs came in the fifth. Michael Busch and Nico Hoerner led off with back-to-back singles. Then three straight batters – Patrick Wisdom, Pete Crow-Armstrong and Yan Gomes – laid down bunts. Counsell said Wisdom chose to sacrifice bunt, moving runners to second and third, without a call from the dugout.

The former Sun-Times and Tribune sportswriter died Wednesday at 72.

Chip Caray, the Cardinals’ TV voice, will call the Cards-Cubs game Sunday with Cubs analyst Jim Deshaies and Marquee Sports Network field reporter Elise Menaker. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m.

Bellinger’s homer lifted the Cubs above the Rays in a 4-3 win Wednesday.





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