It was supposed to be sweet revenge but in the series opener, the Chicago Cubs came close to vindication but fell to the New York Mets 4-3. Daniel Murphy wasn’t there anymore, that famous Cubs slayer and perhaps, the Cubs thought they could catch a break. Both Kris Bryant and Javier Baez homered for the Cubs but in the end, they just couldn’t catch a break.
“He punished that ball,” Maddon said of Bryant’s home run.
While Kris Bryant and Javier Baez are on a tear, it’s the rest of the Cubs that aren’t able to make contact like they did in April.
“Our primary problem last year was our inability to make contact against a group of [their] pitchers that were really on top of their game,” Maddon said. “For the most part, we were really good this April at making contact. May was not as kind, June we’re falling backwards. We have to get back to where we were in April. That’s my biggest concern.”
Now to be fair, Dexter Fowler was a huge part of the Cubs contact issues. He’s nursing a hamstring but should be back in the lineup in a week or two. In the meantime, we know that it’s up to the young Cubs players like Albert Almora, Willson Contreras and Javier Baez to shoulder the load in Fowler’s absence. That could have been part of the problem with the Cubs contact issues.
Now let’s go to the other side and look at starting pitcher John Lackey. He’s a fierce competitor so when he was yanked in the seventh with a runner on first and only one out. Maddon decided to make a pitching change.
“Yes, I was pretty surprised on that one,” Lackey said. “In the fifth inning, I lost the feel for a little while. I kind of lost command of my fastball for a couple hitters. The sixth inning, I got it back going. I had a runner on first with an out. I was pretty surprised.”
Getting a 6 ft 6 Texan pissed off is not a wise thing to do, but he took it in stride.
The Cubs look to rebound in the series today when they face the Mets at 7:07. Jason Hammel gets the call.
“We don’t really remember much that happened here last year,” Bryant said. “We know the feeling of getting eliminated and getting swept. I think we’re on to bigger and better things. Different year, different players, different attitude here.”