So there’s a problem in Chicago. The Cubs lost another game that was within their grasp yesterday when they fell to the San Diego Padres 5-2. I say in their grasp because up until the fourth inning, pitcher Kyle Hendricks was on his lectern conducting classes in a no hitter bid. Then the bases got loaded and a grand slam followed.
“We’re the ones with the ball in our hands, we’re the ones who have to stop it,” Hendricks said. “If we throw up zeros, we have a good chance of winning. Giving up four, five [runs] in a game is not what we have to be doing right now.”
Of course it’s not what they have to do right now, but the RISP has to change. They need to capitalize on that. With 2 for 36 with runners in scoring position, the Cubs are having major league droughts. They rank last in the majors in that department.
“It’s more reminiscent of 2015,” Maddon said. “We were only seven games over .500 at the All-Star break in ’15 and had a wonderful second half of the season to get to the NL Championship Series. Last year, we broke quickly and then played .500 for two months. Hopefully, this year we can get this .500 thing out of the way and do what we normally do.”
Of course the Cubs have the most positive manager in the league so it’s not a question of trouble in the ranks. Whether the Cubs are falling into old habits a la 2015 where the majority of the team were made up of young budding superstars and a lot of inexperience and they still made it to the NLCS. However, last season it took the All Star break, a pick up of Aroldis Chapman and a return of Dexter Fowler to turn things around.
“It’s not complicated,” Maddon said. “You can see the big swings coming out of our zone when just a single would do. We did it before, we can do it again. Everybody loved us a couple days ago, and now all of a sudden we’ve had a tough time scoring runs on the road and we’ve just got to do better. That’s all it comes down to.”
They don’t have Fowler or Chapman this year. The Cubs lead off situation has continuously been in flux and despite the Cubs’ bullpen sitting in third with a 3.34 ERA, their cracks are showing.
“We haven’t hit to our capabilities,” Maddon said. “We haven’t pitched. Our defense has slowly gotten back to our capabilities. I do believe we’re going to hit, we’re going to pitch and we’re going to get better on defense. Why? We’re too young, we’re too strong and we’re too good. If we had been playing our best game and were stuck in this spot, I’d be a little bit more discouraged. We haven’t even come close to playing our game yet. No two years should be exactly the same. I really believe that.”