I’ve got bad news and worse news about the Chicago Cubs.
Here, let me start with the worse news, maybe the rest of this recap will feel better in comparison. (Probably not, but what the heck.)
The Cubs picked just about the worst possible time to match their season-high losing streak at five games with Sunday night’s 6-2 loss to the Diamondbacks.
One week ago, they were two games out of the top wild card and three games out of first place and either position seemed possible.
Now, even though baseball-reference has the Cubs at a 55.4 percent chance to make the postseason and Fangraphs has them at 46 percent, the Cubs are in real danger of missing this year’s postseason entirely. That’s the position they find themselves in with 12 games to go. By defeating the Cubs Sunday, the D-backs moved ahead of the them into the second wild-card spot at 79-72, and the Cubs are now tied with the Marlins at 78-72. Both teams have the tiebreaker over the Cubs, so... if the season ended now, the Cubs would be on the outside looking in. (FWIW, Miami has the tiebreaker over Arizona.)
So not only do the Cubs have to start winning, they would have to finish with more wins than at least two of the Diamondbacks, Marlins and Reds, because all three of those teams have the tiebreaker over the Cubs. (The Cubs have the tiebreaker over the Giants and currently lead them by two games.)
It’s remarkable how fast this team has fallen. They’re not getting timely hitting, they’re not getting solid relief pitching, they’re not fielding well. As is my custom, I will be posting a “Three up, three down” article later today and truthfully, I’m having trouble thinking of who I’d put in the “three up” section.
I suppose you’d like a brief recap of Sunday’s depressing defeat.
Ian Happ led off the game with a double. Happ got moved into the leadoff spot Saturday by David Ross. He’s 5-for-10 with that double and a walk. Perhaps this should have been done sooner?
Happ, unfortunately, was stranded as the next three Cubs were routine outs.
Jordan Wicks, who had been so good over his first three starts, had a shaky first inning and allowed three Arizona runs, and honestly everyone could have gone home right then because the Cubs offense didn’t produce enough to overcome that.
Oh, there were some attempts, early on, at least. In the top of the second, Dansby Swanson led off with a double. One out later, Mike Tauchman singled him in [VIDEO].
The Cubs made it 3-2 in the third. Happ singled and Nico Hoerner and Christopher Morel walked, loading the bases with nobody out.
Chance for a big inning, right?
Well, yeah, there was a chance. Cody Bellinger hit into a double play and Happ scored [VIDEO].
And Happ would have scored to tie the game if not for this great catch by Lourdes Gurriel Jr. [VIDEO]
And so that was all the Cubs could score in that inning, and indeed, for the rest of the game. They had just four baserunners the rest of the way, and just one past first base.
Meanwhile, the D-backs were extending the lead against Jose Cuas, who allowed a pair in the sixth on a two-run homer by Ketel Marte, and another in the seventh when Jace Peterson doubled off Luke Little, the run charged to Daniel Palencia.
That double by Peterson sums up these Cubs. Peterson is a 33-year-old role player who’s been on seven teams and has a career slash line of .228/.319/.338. Against the Cubs, though, he turns into an All-Star, with a career line of .282/.375/.484 in 48 games, his best OPS against anyone. Sheesh.
That’s about all I’ve got, really. Over the five-game losing streak the Cubs have been outscored 32-19, outhomered 8-4 and outplayed in just about every phase of baseball.
There is one last thing I want to address. I have heard many calls on social media for the firing of David Ross over this losing streak. I cannot think of anything more ridiculous. This is not Ross’ fault — he can only play the guys the front office gives him and though you can at times fault him for lineup selections or bullpen choices, I guarantee you that if someone replaced him, within a week you’d be complaining about those choices from the new guy. It wasn’t Ross’ fault that Swanson failed to catch that ball in Arizona in the 13th inning Saturday, wasn’t his fault that Cy Young candidate Justin Steele served up two three-run homers on Friday... I could go on, but you get the idea, I hope. Ross is under contract for next year and the team has an option for 2025 and this front office likes him, He’s not going anywhere.
Are the Cubs’ postseason dreams over? Well, of course not, not yet, anyway. There are 12 games remaining in the season and the team returns to Wrigley Field, where they have generally played well this year, and face two teams who are awful on the road, the Pirates and Rockies. A week from now, the Cubs could be in a better spot. Or not. Because baseball.
The Cubs open a three-game series against the Pirates at Wrigley Tuesday evening at 6:40 p.m. CT. At this time, neither team has a starter listed, but if both teams continue on the rotations they have used up to now, it’ll be Javier Assad for the Cubs and Bailey Falter for Pittsburgh. TV coverage Tuesday will be via Marquee Sports Network.
Should David Ross be fired as Cubs manager?
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