Cubs offense has been all Dansby Swanson, Ian Happ through two games
By Jake Misener
Despite another start of six shutout innings from Justin Steele that came on the heels of Marcus Stroman's Opening Day gem, the Cubs squandered a late 1-0 lead on Saturday and will head into Sunday's rubber match with the Brewers loking to take the series at Wrigley Field.
Steele was wobbly in the first, but settled into a groove and looked locked in as the afternoon wore on, striking out 8 and walking just one. Seeing him continue to build on his breakout second half on a day that featured anything but baseball weather on the North Side was certainly encouraging.
"He threw a phenomenal game. That's as good as we've seen him. "- David Ross, via MLB.com
Unfortunately, Steele's gem was not enough to give Chicago its second straight win. After an efficient seventh inning, Cubs skipper David Ross opted to send right-hander Javier Assad back out for the eighth - and the wheels quickly came off for the 25-year-old. Ross' decision to go back to Assad even with a fully rested pen seemed questionable, but it is what it is at this point.
Cubs need more from the supporting cast around Dansby Swanson and Ian Happ offensively
The bigger concern for the club was a woeful offensive showing - that is, unless your name is Ian Happ or Dansby Swanson.
In all fairness, back-to-back matchups against Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff isn't exactly a fun matchup for the offense - but a 2-for-47 showing (.042 AVG) isn't going to get it done. Entering action, the Cubs have the fewest strikeouts in all of baseball (15), but have rank 26th in team OPS (.500).
Swanson is off to a scorching hot start in his Cubs career, going 6-for-8 with a double. Unfortunately, that leadoff double in the game on Saturday was squandered and the Chicago shortstop was left stranded at second in that inning. There's no questioning the fact it's been the Swanson show this weekend at the Confines, though - on both sides of the ball.
2022 All-Star and Gold Glove outfielder Ian Happ accounted for the Cubs' lone tally against Brewers pitching on Saturday, taking advantage of a strong wind blowing out to right to sneak a Woodruff offering into the basket and break the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth after a lengthy at-bat.
We're just two games into a 162-game marathon, and it's far too early to even start drawing any sort of meaningful conclusions about a team's performance. But suffice to say it'll take more than Happ and Swanson alone to carry the offensive load it'll take for this team to be playing meaningful baseball late this summer.