All the 100 mile-per-hour relievers in the world won't help the Cubs win the World Series if they don't hit.
The Cubs made James Shields look like Clayton Kershaw Tuesday night at the Cell as Shields and two White Sox relievers held them to four singles in a 3-0 shutout that had to be the dullest Cubs game of 2016. It was the fifth time the Cubs had been shut out this year, but the first since May 31 when the Dodgers blanked them at Wrigley.
I could probably end this recap here and you'd be perfectly satisfied, but details you usually want, so details you will get.
Kyle Hendricks struggled with his command in the first inning. Locating and good command are normally Kyle's strong points, so when he walked Sox leadoff man Adam Eaton and then gave up a bouncy single up the middle to Tim Anderson, you knew it wasn't going to be a good inning.
Hendricks did get out of the inning with only one run allowed, on an RBI single by Jose Abreu, but he threw 30 pitches in the inning, not a good sign. He managed to get through the fourth down only 1-0, helped by this double play [VIDEO] turned in the third inning. Justin Morneau was called safe at first, but review showed the throw beat him to the bag and Anthony Rizzo kept his foot on first base. The call was overturned.
That's about the only thing the Cubs won on the evening. Eaton homered off Hendricks in the fifth to make it 2-0. The Cubs had loaded the bases off Shields in the second inning with two out, helped by a catcher-interference call on Dioner Navarro, but Dexter Fowler popped up to end the inning.
The Cubs got only one baserunner past first base after that, in the sixth when Addison Russell walked and Jason Heyward singled with two out. Again, a popup, this one by Javier Baez, ended the inning.
Travis Wood relieved Hendricks after he allowed a two-out single in the sixth. Wood proceeded to walk the next three hitters to force in a run before getting Eaton to ground out to end the inning.
About the only positive thing I can report about this game was another efficient relief inning from Joe Nathan, who had a 1-2-3 seventh, including a strikeout. Nathan (and I didn't take note of this in his first outing, so I don't know if he always does this) threw all his pitches from a windup, rather than the stretch favored by most relievers with no one on base.
Here's how bad the Cubs' offense was in this one:
7.2+ scoreless innings in a start vs #Cubs this season:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 27, 2016
James Shields tonight (7.2)
Madison Bumgarner May 22 (7.2)
Gerrit Cole May 15 (8.0)
#Cubs scoring by month:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 27, 2016
April: 136 runs (6.18/game)
May: 139 runs (4.96/game)
June: 140 runs (5.00/game)
July: 83 runs (3.95/game)
Kris Bryant would probably be happy to never see Shields again:
Pitchers to strike out Kris Bryant 3 times in a game on multiple occasions— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 27, 2016
C. Sale 7/11/15, 8/16/15
J. Shields 4/17/15 (MLB Debut), Tonight
Unfortunately, Bryant will have to see Sale on Thursday, as will the rest of the Cubs.
The biggest news of the day happened during Aroldis Chapman's introductory news conference with local media, an apparent misunderstanding of questions asked regarding Chapman's phone conversation with Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts. You can read the details here. All I'll say about this is that I hope this issue is now behind us and we can return to baseball.
Which is something I hope all the Cubs can return to, also, as Tuesday's game felt like they were going through the motions. Another large contingent of Cubs fans had little to cheer for as the Cubs dropped their third straight game at the Cell (going back to last year). The Cubs really need to win the next two games, not for the Crosstown Cup (I honestly don't care at all about that), but to get themselves back on track. The Cubs will have to win their next five games to avoid having a losing July, which would be the first losing calendar month since September 2014, when they went 12-13 (they had a .500 month in May 2015, 14-14).
They'll have a chance to begin doing that tonight, as the Cubs/White Sox series moves north to Wrigley Field. Jason Hammel goes for the Cubs and Anthony Ranaudo for the Sox.