What a difference a month makes. On June 2, the Chicago Cubs had just swept the San Diego Padres, had gone 21-8 since May 1, and were in first by 1 1/2 games.
Since then, however, the Cubs have gone 10-16, sit six games out at 42-39, and are closer to third place than first. Their last win was a week ago. Injuries have sapped the lineup, overuse has tapped out the bullpen and, beyond Kyle Hendricks, the starting pitching is in deep trouble.
June started out well enough with the aforementioned completed sweep of the Padres at home. The first of three road trips had the North Siders salvage one game of a four-game set in San Francisco then taking two of three from Padres. So far so good.
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It was home for a quick three-game series with the Cardinals that the Cubs swept, and by June 13 the month wasn’t looking too bad.
The second road trip to New York netted one win in four games, but the home series against the Marlins was perhaps the canary in the coal mine. The Cubs dropped two of three to the Fish and it was ugly. Two blow out losses of 10-2 and 11-1. Then they split two games with Cleveland.
The month ended in brutal fashion. The third road trip of the month began in LA with a combined no hitter against the Dodgers. That was the end of the line. The Dodgers took the next three games including a walk off win.
On Monday a 10-run burst of Brewer hitting led to a 14-4 loss that was followed on Wednesday by a blown 7-0 first-inning lead that turned into a 15-7 loss. There’s pain and then there’s agony. That was agony.
Chicago Cubs: Is this the end or will the struggles help the team improve?
It is said that a baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. Well, I’ve run marathons. Yes, there is that point where despite all the training your mind and body scream at you to stop, usually in the middle of a long hill. You shut that out and run through it.
The Cubs will have to blast past that awful month, take solace in the fact that they are still in second, above .500, and while their schedule gets softer the Brewers’ schedule gets a lot more challenging.
In July the Cubs play one team, the Reds, that is above .500. They have the Diamondbacks twice and they are the worst team in baseball.
Adversity can strengthen an organization, bring out it’s best, allow it to demonstrate resilience. It can also break an organization by exposing its faults and weaknesses.
Which will it be for the Chicago Cubs? We’ll know the answer soon enough.