The Chicago Cubs have made the World Series all too easy for the Cleveland Indians. The frustrating narrative that has plagued the young Cubs puts them on the brink of defeat. If things don’t improve quickly, Cub fans could be staring at a long, snake-bitten winter.
The 2016 Chicago Cubs plowed through the regular season using a simple gameplan. The team focused on taking good at-bats, driving up the pitch count, and staying patient.
The postseason has been anything but that at times. In games 3 and 4, the Indians have taken advantage of the Cubs by throwing early strikes and making the batters expand their strike zone. Furthermore, the Indians have executed on just about every chance they have encountered.
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A tip of the cap can be given to the Wahoos, who have capitalized time and time again this postseason. Fox analyst John Smoltz highlighted the major difference that has defined the first two World Series games at Wrigley Field since 1945.
Productive outs have to be part of the game plan. It’s becoming difficult to keep track of how many situations the Cubs have let slip away because of the poor approach at the plate. And that, really, has been the theme the past two days.
The young possibly rattled lineup hasn’t made the most of their at-bats. When you continually fail at putting pressure on the opposition, they will eventually break your back. Case in point, let’s look at the bottom of the sixth inning of game 4.
After Anthony Rizzo doubled of Corey Kluber to lead off the inning, Ben Zobrist quickly flew out to left field. Following behind him, Willson Contreras put together one of the worst at-bats in the whole series. After taking a fastball down the middle, Contreras expanded the zone and struck out on a breaking ball that never looked like a strike.
Cub fans finally had something to cheer about but were quickly extinguished when neither hitter could move Rizzo to third. Despite the promising start to the frame, Addison Russell grounded weakly to third to end the inning.
The Cubs put the leadoff man in scoring position with no one out, and he was left standing there. If the Cubs succeeded in making productive outs in that situation, a score by Rizzo would have made it a 4-2 game heading into the seventh. Instead, the Indians led off the seventh with a double, got hit by a pitch, and hit a three-run home run to make it 7-1.
The Indians have been comfortable in these last couple of games. The momentum shifted heavily in Cleveland’s favor in that moment.
This hasn’t been the Cubs team we have become accustomed to this season. That’s the frustrating truth about postseason baseball. In October, winning is driven by clean play and making the most of the opportunities presented to you.
Kris Bryant, who I will admit I predicted to be the MVP of the World Series, has brought almost nothing to the team in this series. In addition to the two errors in game 4, Bryant hasn’t been able to put together good at-bats.
Bryant, who is the presumptive National League MVP, hasn’t shown the keen batting eye he normally possesses. Bryant isn’t the only member of the team who has struggled, but as a leader of this team, he must be better than this.
The World Series hasn’t been a pretty experience so far for the Chicago Cubs. Although the hole is deep, this Cubs team is resilient. The goal tomorrow is to make every at-bat count. If the Cubs can do that, there is no reason to think they can’t still make this a series.