Cubs Observations: Bats shut down again as daunting stretch looms

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Tim Stebbins
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Observations: Cubs' bats quiet again, daunting stretch looms originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Cubs lost 7-0 to the Brewers on Wednesday, dropping to 5-7 on the season.

Here are 10 observations from the game.

1. For the second time in three starts, Jake Arrieta ran into trouble in the first inning. The Brewers scored twice on three hits (two doubles) and a sac fly to jump out to an early lead. Arrieta allowed one run in the first inning in his season debut.

2. Arrieta was solid after the first, recovering to give the Cubs five innings of three-run ball. He retired 12 of the final 15 batters he faced, with a third-inning home run by Travis Shaw being the only hit off him.

The right-hander finished the day with five strikeouts and one (intentional) walk.

3. Wednesday was Arrieta’s first non-quality start in three tries this season. However, he’s allowed three earned runs or less and pitched at least five innings each time.

4. The Cubs and Brewers went 3 1/2 innings without a hit batter before an Arrieta sinker caught Keston Hiura on the arm in the fourth. It didn’t appear intentional, coming on an 0-2 pitch with one out.

The two clubs have had some intense moments in recent games due to several instances where Willson Contreras was hit by a pitch. 

MORE: Contreras: Brewers ‘picked wrong guy to throw at’

5. Shelby Miller struggled with command in his first big league appearance since June 25, 2019. The right-hander threw nine strikes on 23 pitches, walking three straight batters — two forcing in runs — in the sixth inning. He didn’t get an out.

The Cubs selected Miller’s contract from the alternate site ahead of Wednesday’s game. He joins the club as Kyle Hendricks' status is uncertain after missing Tuesday's start.

6. For the second time this series, the Brewers put together a big sixth inning to take a commanding lead. They scored four times in the sixth on Wednesday, extending their lead to 7-0. On Monday, they scored six times en route to a 6-1 win over the Cubs. 

7. The Cubs’ scuffling offense had another down performance in their second shutout loss of the season — both of which have come against the Brewers. Chicago recorded four hits, the eighth time this season they’ve managed five or less.

8. The Cubs are certainly struggling at the plate, but Corbin Burnes deserves credit for his performance Wednesday. The right-hander, off to a stellar start this season, threw six scoreless innings, striking out 10 with no walks.

9. The Cubs saw Burnes and Brandon Woodruff — Milwaukee’s top starters — this series, along with Freddy Peralta, and recorded seven hits. It doesn't get any easier going forward as they face a daunting stretch in the next few weeks.

The Cubs will face the Braves (twice), Mets, Brewers, Reds and Dodgers in their next six series, all clubs with big-name starting pitchers.

10. The Cubs have lost three straight series for the first time since September 2019, when they dropped three in a row against the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates amid a nine-game losing streak.

Next up: The Cubs are off Thursday before returning to action Friday against the Braves at Wrigley Field. Drew Smyly (0-0, 5.73) is Atlanta’s probable starter and the Cubs’ is to be determined.

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