Their worst stretch of play in months could not have come at a much worse time for the Chicago Cubs.
The veteran team needed to regroup on Monday’s day off after a dreadful 1-5 trip against the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. Five consecutive losses culminated with Sunday’s 6-2 defeat as the Cubs were swept for the first time in almost three months and returned to Chicago for their final homestand desperately trying to regain their playoff position.
The Cubs (78-72) entered Monday tied with the Miami Marlins for the final National League wild-card spot, though the Marlins hold the tiebreaker.
“They were better than we were in all aspects of the game,” manager David Ross said of the Diamondbacks. “They played better defense, they pitched better, they had timely hitting, they ran the bases better. We got beat all the way around. A bad road trip. Try to wash it on the off day tomorrow.”
The Cubs wasted their best opportunity to erase Arizona’s lead and produce a big inning when they loaded the bases with no one out in the third. They drove in just one run on Cody Bellinger’s double-play grounder. The Cubs are 0-for-8 with one RBI in bases-loaded situations since sweeping the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 6.
“It’s been frustrating,” Bellinger said. “Overall the past week there’s been a lot of unfortunate bounces and as a whole pretty disappointing, but looking in the future, we’re still in a good spot. A good amount of games left to play and just trust the group in here and myself to continue to roll and hopefully get on a hot little stretch.”
Their issues with scoring runs Sunday played into a larger problem the last 10 days, with the offensive struggles particularly pronounced in high-leverage moments. During the three-game series at Chase Field, spanning 31 innings, the Cubs left 27 runners on base. They failed to put a runner in scoring position in Friday’s 6-4 loss.
All the little things have added up.
“We get to those moments and we have to lock in, grind a little bit harder in those moments and not get too anxious,” Ross said. “We had a lot of traffic. The at-bats are not bad. We just get in those moments and take the pressure off the pitcher pretty quickly. We’ve got to keep the pressure on and have quality at-bats.”