As fans, we occasionally have certain superstitions or beliefs that make sense only to us. For example, Cubs are winning a game 3-0 before I get home. I turn it on, they give up four runs, I ACTUALLY believe I had something to do with it. As a writer, I feel even more involved. About a week ago, when the Cubs play had improved, I posed the question “would anything change if they kept winning?” One of my points was they’ve been in almost every game. The last week pretty much imploded that defense. So let’s look at what the Cubs did this past week.
This Week: 2-4 Season: 20-34, Last in the NL Central
The Good: Justin Grimm continued his solid work out of the Cubs bullpen. He pitched scoreless baseball while allowing only two hits and struck out seven. With all the shifting this week with paternity leave and activations it was good to have some stability out there.
The Bad: Travis Wood failed to make it out of the third, allowing seven runs in 2 2/3 innings in Friday’s contest against the Brewers. It was one of Wood’s worst starts since joining the Cubs
The Ugly: Jeff Samardzija somehow managed to one-up Wood for the worst start of the week. Samardzija surrendered eight runs in three innings of work. The positive for Jeff is the Cubs didn’t score, so he was going to lose this one anyway.
The Cubs spent the entire week away from Wrigley, and the week actually got off to a good start. Samardzija found himself on the winning side for the first time this season. While not his best outing, the Cubs offense finally provided the support that they had not been providing by scoring eight.
The next 18 innings were not as fruitful for the Cubs offense. Actually, no fruit at all. Back-to-back shutouts from the Giants left the Cubs with another series loss.
As mentioned, the start of the Brewers series didn’t fare much better as Travis Wood had no answers for the Crew’s hitters. The score wasn’t as close as the 11-5 final as the Cubs plated two meaningless runs in the ninth.
They would rebound in game two as Jason Hammel was dominant on the mound, and Anthony Rizzo was his equal at the plate. Rizzo hit two 2-run home runs, and Hammel threw seven shutout innings as the Cubs returned the favor to the Brewers with a good old rout of their own 8-0.
The Brewers, however, seemed to feel disrespected on Sunday and gave it back to one of the best pitchers in baseball this season in Samardzija. His ERA jumped almost a full run after allowing 8 runs in three innings of work in 9-0 loss.
Cubs Players of the Week
Anthony Rizzo - Anthony Rizzo was one of the few offensive bright spots for the Cubs this week. When you aren’t scoring, it’s hard to pick out someone as a top performer. But Rizzo’s two home runs helped the Cubs take game two from their division rivals which is always a positive.
Jason Hammel - Jason Hammel once again had to play “streak-stopper”, as he has on more than one occasion this year. After three straight losses Hammel was able to silence the Brewers bats with seven shutout innings in the 8-0 victory.
This was one of the first weeks this season the Cubs weren’t competitive on an everyday basis. They found themselves on the wrong end of some lopsided games, but even their victories weren’t typical of their one-run battles. I think the toughest part for me as a fan with these losses is hearing manager Rick Renteria talk about good at-bats, or really grinding it out on the mound. This isn’t little league. Those who know baseball will indeed notice and appreciate it, but we also want to see some wins. Three shutouts in a week makes it hard for me to be proud of a guy for a “solid at-bat.”
Hopefully the upcoming home stand will lend itself to better results.