Perhaps they could try putting signs on the light posts around town, offering a reward for the return of their lost offense. But somehow, some way, the Cubs had better hope that their bats find new life or the Milwaukee Brewers, which completed a three game sweep at Wrigley Field, will steal the division crown away from the defending champs. Or, even worse, perhaps the dreaded Cardinals.
Look, I am not being pessimistic, this is optimism calling. And the Cubs had better answer the call, for their solid starting pitching isn't enough to win—they need to score more runs in order to fend off not only the Brew Crew, but even the Cardinals, who have won three in a row and eight of 10 to tie Milwaukee and creep within two games of the front-running Cubs.
With division teams playing each other, the remaining games take on more significance as the clock winds down to the end of the season. In between games against their division rivals, the Cubs also play the Mets for a three game series, beginning on Tuesday. Then, following a three gamer vs. St. Louis, the Cubs take on Tampa Bay.
And while the Mets are way out of contention, they can afford to play loose, and have some young guys playing for next year. The Rays, meanwhile, are also hopelessly behind in the AL East, but again, who wouldn't want to help take down the defending World Series champions?
The Cubs will have a chance to exact revenge against the Brewers when they travel to Milwaukee for a critical four game series beginning on September 21st.
For the season, the Cubs offense ranks tied for third place, with Arizona and the Dodgers, in OPS (.772). They are eighth in batting average (.253) and tied with three other teams for second in OBP (.335). They rank third in homers, as their next bomb will be number 200 on the season.
Additionally, the Cubs are fourth in runs scored (706), though they are only 10th in hits, with 1,218. They are tied with the Dodgers for fifth in slugging percentage too (.437), so, overall, it's been a pretty good offensive season for the Cubs, even though their trouble with runners in scoring position during the first half of the season was well documented.
So they have proven they can do it, though in the series with Milwaukee that just concluded, they scratched out a measly three runs over the three games. In Friday's game, they were blanked on five hits. On Saturday they scored twice in a 15-2 drudging, adding six hits in that contest.
On Sunday, the Cubs managed eight hits but scored just one time. They also committed a couple of errors. Their leadoff hitters had just one hit in the series.
All in all, over the three games sweep by the Brewers, the Cubs were an embarrassing 1-20 with RISP. That tells quite a story right there, Cubs fans.
In the Pirates series, the Cubs scored eight runs on Thursday, but just one run on Wednesday, three on Tuesday, and were shut out on Monday, for an average of only three runs per game even factoring in the Thursday outburst.
Meanwhile, against the Braves they managed just a single run one week ago, after they scored 14 runs the day before, yet just two on Friday. Once again, when they do score, they score in bunches. But it's been rare indeed. In fact, it seems like the Cubs hitters sleep walk together or they collectively ramp up at the same time.
It's as if they need someone to get them rolling to remind them that they can do this. While that's being close knit as a team, it's certainly not what you want.
The good news is that, despite all this, they lead the division by two games over both Milwaukee and St. Louis. Maybe the return of Willson Contreras, who struck out as a pinch-hitter on Sunday, will spark the team's offense. But one way or another, something has got to get them going.
One thing that's been true about the Cubs for a long time now is that they tend to rely on the long ball for much of their scoring, so when they aren't hitting home runs, they tend to have difficulty scoring runs.
So what is going wrong, Joe Maddon? "It happens to every team at some point; it's contagious to hit as well as it is contagious to not hit. You just have to keep working your way through it. It's going to come back to us. We're going to start hitting again."
All we can do as Cubs fans is hope that Joe is right. They've done it before, they can do it again. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, as time is running out.
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