It’s not just that the Cubs have lost five in a row, matching a season high.
It’s that they look particularly bad in doing it, and the last three losses have been depressingly the same.
You know the drill by now. Go behind early and come back to tie or be close, making people think, “Hey, this one might work out after all,” or in the case of Tuesday’s 6-2 loss to the Padres, actually take the lead early only to cough it up in seemingly less time than it would take you to get up from the couch and go to the kitchen to get a snack.
And the last two at the hands of a team generally considered the worst team in the major leagues.
Kyle Schwarber broke an 0-for-16 slump with a home run [VIDEO]. That’s good!
At the time, the top of the fifth, that tied the game 2-2 and gave that “Hey, this one might work out after all” feeling. About that homer:
Schwarber's HR was his 1st since May 23. 101 mph exit velo. #Cubs— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) May 31, 2017
What Carrie doesn’t mention is that the homer was Schwarber’s first hit since May 23, followed by the aforementioned 0-for-16. This home run doesn’t really change my opinion that Kyle could benefit from some time in Triple-A. His last hit other than a home run came on May 21.
Eddie Butler gave that back and more in the bottom of the inning. Two singles and a double by Hunter Renfroe made it 4-2 Padres. Butler then issued a walk.
Yes, a walk. To Franchy Cordero. Who had walked exactly 15 times in 190 plate appearances at Triple-A before his recall last week (and that’s almost exactly his rate through the minor leagues, 150 walks in 2,096 PA). It was the first walk he’d drawn in 13 big-league plate appearances.
I mean... you just can’t walk guys like that.
Brian Duensing, who’s been very, very good most of this year, got the second out, but then served up a two-run double to Austin Hedges, who had hit a two-run homer earlier off Butler. That made this the first four-RBI game of Hedges’ career.
I mean... these are essentially Triple-A guys beating the Cubs. That just can’t happen.
The Cubs’ bullpen did wind up throwing 3⅔ innings of scoreless ball, allowing one hit and striking out eight. That’s good! (Well, except for the two inherited runners Duensing allowed to score.)
But the Cubs couldn’t do anything against three random Padres relievers, who included:
- A guy who had thrown two innings and 28 pitches the day before, and
- A guy who is pitching for his third organization since last year
All of this is mystifying. The Cubs have essentially the same talent base they had a year ago, only virtually everyone is doing worse. Only Kris Bryant is performing anywhere near the standards he set in 2016. The bullpen as a whole is doing reasonably well, but there are some guys (Hector Rondon and Justin Grimm, I’m looking at you) who have scuffled. And the starting rotation, one of the best things about last year’s team, is in tatters.
The good news, if there is any, is that no team in the N.L. Central is playing well at all. All five teams in the division lost Tuesday evening, and the Cardinals in particular looked just about as bad as the Cubs, blowing a 3-0 first inning lead and losing 9-4.
That leaves the Cubs, despite the losing streak and now being a game under .500, still only 1½ games out of first place. We’re still not quite at the one-third mark of the 2017 season, so there is plenty of time to right this sinking ship.
It would be nice if it started Wednesday afternoon. The road trip ends with a day game, and the Cubs hope to not get swept out of California. Jake Arrieta goes for the Cubs and Luis Perdomo for the Padres. Game time is 2:40 CT. The game preview will post at 12:30 p.m. CT.