I was going to headline this recap of the Cubs’ 6-3 loss to the Brewers “Groundhog Day,” but thought that was too obvious and then Josh sent me the one you see at the top of this article, which I liked better.
What more can be said about this team? Every game is the same. Some Cub hits a home run, or other extra-base hit, and the team takes a precarious slim lead. Starting pitching does all right until one horrific inning, and that, as they say, is the ballgame.
Oh, here’s one more thing that can be said:
From Cubs historian Ed Hartig:— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) April 13, 2021
The Cubs' 49 hits are the fewest hits by the team over 10 consecutive games in a season since at least 1901. That's *any* 10-game stretch -- not just the first 10 games of a season. The previous low was 51 hits from Sept. 17-29, 1968.
It should be noted here that 1968 was “The Year of the Pitcher” where hardly anyone was scoring large numbers of runs. The Cubs went 6-4 in that 10-game stretch in 1968, outscoring opponents 31-28. You can see that offense was not at a premium back then.
The Cubs offense nearly matched its long-ago counterparts over the 10 games of the 2021 season so far, scoring 29 runs. But the pitching staff has allowed 43, thus the 4-6 record.
You know, 43 runs allowed over 10 games isn’t horrific. In fact, it’s exactly the MLB average and so the Cubs rank tied for 15th in runs allowed, and that includes one team above them (Mets) that has played only five games.
But the Cubs’ runs scored total? Tied for 27th with the Marlins (who have played nine games) and ahead of only the Nationals and Mets, who have played seven and five games respectively.
I don’t understand this team at all. It is essentially the same core that averaged 94 wins from 2015-19 and scored more than 800 runs three times in that span. Don’t tell me “They aren’t that good,” because five years’ worth of results say that they are.
You’d like some highlights and thoughts about this game and by golly, you are going to have some.
Kris Bryant’s fourth-inning homer gave the Cubs a 1-0 lead [VIDEO].
Adbert Alzolay was going along just fine for the first five innings. Through five, he had allowed just one baserunner on a single by Avisail Garcia. Garcia was later wiped out on a double play, so Alzolay had faced the minimum through five.
It all fell apart in the sixth. Two singles sandwiched around a walk loaded the bases with none out. Alzolay induced this ground ball for a force at the plate [VIDEO].
David Ross made a mistake after this, I think. He took Alzolay out after just 68 pitches. Why? Well, of course you can’t have a righthander face Daniel Vogelbach in that situation. Craig Counsell responded by sending up Luis Urias to face Andrew Chafin. Chafin had been really good so far this year. Monday? Not so much. What followed: bases-clearing double, groundout, intentional walk, wild pitch scoring a run, RBI triple, RBI single.
So Alzolay’s numbers don’t look so great — three runs in 5⅓ innings — but I thought he pitched really well. It was the first time in his MLB career that he threw more than five innings in a game.
The six-run inning pretty much ended the game, though the Cubs pushed across a pair in the ninth on this double by Javier Baez [VIDEO].
That brought Josh Hader into the game and he got Jason Heyward to ground out and struck out David Bote to end it.
Another Ross criticism — despite the poor offensive performance by just about everyone on this team, Ross continues to trot the same lineup out there pretty much every day, with a few tweaks if a lefthander is starting.
By now, in a slump like this, Joe Maddon would have put Anthony Rizzo in the leadoff spot (honestly, Rizzo is probably the best leadoff hitter this team has anyway), or done something like this:
Of course, Ross doesn’t have a DH (“0”) to bat sixth but why the heck not put the pitcher in that spot for one game. How much worse could the results be?
(Incidentally, Vince Belnome, who was the DH in that 2014 game for the Rays, played in just four MLB games. He went 0-for-3, but will be immortalized forever as part of that lineup.)
Unintentional humor: In the seventh, Javier Baez made a throw that would have landed in about the 10th row of the seats if not for the net [VIDEO].
Even Javy had to laugh at that one.
One last note on Monday’s game: Two of the three pitchers recalled to replace the three who went on the COVID-19 list threw in this game. Justin Steele made his MLB debut and looked pretty good in a scoreless inning, and Brad Wieck also threw a scoreless frame. Both allowed a hit and a walk, but also struck out two.
That’s all I’ve got for this one. I hope Ross does something, ANYTHING, to try to shake these guys out of their slump.
Both teams flip around to the No. 1 guys in their rotations for Tuesday night’s game. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and Brandon Woodruff will go for the Brewers. Game time is again 6:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.