Look at it this way.
Last September, the Phillies came into Wrigley Field and got swept by the Cubs. They made it all the way to the World Series. So, maybe...
Yes, I know things don’t work that way. How about this? The Cubs were swept by the Angels in early June. Then they won 11 of 13... before getting swept again, by the Phillies, losing 3-1 Thursday evening. Perhaps another streak is imminent?
Yes, I know it doesn’t work that way either, but the 2023 edition of the Cubs has in fact been a streaky team, so ... hopefully they can start another one Friday, given that they’re now on a four-game losing streak.
This one was no fun. Old friend Kyle Schwarber hit his old teammate Kyle Hendricks’ first pitch of the game for a home run. From the Tribune recap:
“‘Schwarbs’ got me,” Hendricks said. “We had a good chuckle after that. That’s my guy. I’ll have to text him.”
For Hendricks, who was homer-prone the last two seasons, it was just the second home run he’s allowed this year in 41⅔ innings.
The Cubs tied the game in the second inning. Cody Bellinger singled with one out, and one out later Jared Young lined this triple to right [VIDEO].
The Phillies took the lead back in the third. Singles by Kody Clemens and Trea Turner and an uncontested stolen base by Turner put runners on second and third for Bryce Harper, who singled in both runners for a 3-1 Phillies lead.
Everyone could have gone home right then, because that was the end of the scoring for the night. The Cubs did have more chances, leaving RISP in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. The fourth and fifth innings deserve commentary. Nick Madrigal came up with two out and runners on first and third and attempted a bunt, which failed. And with two on and nobody out in the fifth, Christopher Morel sacrificed the runners into scoring position, but the next two Cubs made outs to end the inning.
David Ross had comments on those bunts:
Cubs manager David Ross said neither costly bunt decision came from the bench tonight. Said Madrigal forgot there were two outs. Added that Morel “thought he was helping the team”, but manager said they want him swinging in those situations.— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 30, 2023
Well, yeah, on both of those.
Hendricks, meanwhile, threw extremely well after the third inning, allowing just one more hit after Harper’s RBI single. He was running out of gas in the seventh, but Ian Happ ended the inning with this nice diving catch [VIDEO].
Seven innings, six hits, three runs, no walks, four strikeouts for Hendricks. Over the last 10 seasons, starters who allowed exactly that many hits and runs in seven innings had their team win about half the time. This, obviously, was one of the half that didn’t, and the reason lies squarely with the Cubs offense, which has pretty much stopped hitting since that four-run first inning in London last Sunday. Since then, in 44 total innings, the Cubs have scored 13 runs and lost all the games played.
The bullpen did another good job, with Julian Merryweather and Mark Leiter Jr. throwing scoreless innings in relief of Hendricks, but the offense simply did nothing after the middle innings, with just two baserunners after the fifth, one of those reaching on an error.
That’s about all I’ve got here. Hopefully things will be better starting Friday, when the Cleveland Guardians come to Wrigley Field for a three-game series. Justin Steele will start for the Cubs and Cal Quantrill goes for Cleveland. Game time is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and MLB Network outside the Cubs and Guardians market territories).