Cubs offense hits rough patch in loss to Brewers


Cubs offense hits rough patch in loss to Brewers

It was a picture-perfect day at Wrigley Field, but the Cubs still walked away with a bad taste in their mouths.

The Cubs (13-9) offense managed just one run and five hits as they lost to the Brewers 6-1 in front of 34,878 fans at Wrigley Field.

In addition to the 70-degree weather and sun-soaked forecast, it was also the first time the wind was blowing out for a game this season at the corner of Clark and Addison.

But the Brewers (6-18) were the only team to truly take advantage of the conditions, as Ryan Braun hit a two-run homer in the first inning off Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. Milwaukee added another pair of runs in the second off a couple of balls just out of the reach of Cubs defenders.

"Just wasn't very good today," Arrieta said. "Plain and simple, didn't do a good enough job. We need more out of our starter and didn't give us the effort that I intended to today."

On one play in the second inning, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell collided in shallow right field attempting to catch Carlos Gomez's looping pop-up, which wound up falling for a hit, leading to the first run. Both players were shaken up on the play, but stayed in the game.

"It was really just awkward from the dugout," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "Got out there and neither one seemed to be in trouble, so obviously felt good about that. We're just fortunate it wasn't worse than it looked."

The Brewers got their sixth run in the ninth inning when Starlin Castro made a throwing error to first base and even though no one had covered third base, Rizzo turned and threw it anyways, allowing Logan Schafer to circle the bags on what started as a weak ground ball to shortstop.

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Rizzo provided the only offense for the Cubs with a solo shot to center in the sixth inning.

Jorge Soler and Miguel Montero started off the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, with singles, but the Cubs weren't able to do anything after that.

Beyond that, the only other hits were singles off the bats of Chris Denorfia and Russell.

"The home run early on by Braun really set the tone for them," Maddon said. "And we were just unable to answer anything. Their guy pitched really well. [Fiers] was good today."

The day started promising for the Cubs as two of the first three batters - Soler and Rizzo - worked walks from Brewers starter Mike Fiers, but Fiers then came back to strike out Kris Bryant and Miguel Montero as part of a stretch where he retired 12 Cubs in a row.

Fiers struck out 12 batters in his six innings and the Cubs struck out 18 times as a whole on the afternoon. Maddon attributed the high strikeout total to Fiers' location.

"I just think he was throwing the ball where he wanted to," Maddon said.

The Cubs have now scored just three runs in the last 30 innings dating back to Tuesday.

Willson Contreras' bat-flip game is already in midseason form

Willson Contreras' bat-flip game is already in midseason form

The MLB regular season is still 13 days away, but Willson Contreras is ready for the swings to count.

The Cubs catcher hit an absolute bomb of a homer Friday afternoon off White Sox pitcher Reynaldo Lopez, but it wasn't just a homer.

Contreras put an exclamation mark on the dinger (his third of the spring and the second this week) with an A+ bat flip:

I'm not sure what's more majestic: The 450-foot shot or the 45-foot bat-flip.

Either way, Contreras is ready for those 2018 NL MVP votes.

Cubs opposition research: It's an even year, so count on a Giants comeback


Cubs opposition research: It's an even year, so count on a Giants comeback

The expectations couldn't be any higher for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. 

It's 2016 all over again. The goal isn't just a trip to the playoffs or another NL pennant. It's World Series or bust for this group of North Siders.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

San Francisco Giants

2017 record: 64-98, last place in NL West

Offseason additions: Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, Austin Jackson, Gregor Blanco, Tony Watson, Julian Fernandez

Offseason departures: Michael Morse, Matt Cain, Matt Moore, Denard Span, Kyle Crick, Christian Arroyo

X-factor: Brandon Belt

The trades for Longoria and McCutchen are going to get all the attention, but the Giants are sort of acquiring Belt, too. 

Their sweet-swining lefty first baseman only appeared in 104 games in 2017, missing the last few weeks of the season with a bad concussion. When he was on the field, he led the team in both homers (18) and walks (66) despite just 451 plate appearances. 

Belt has turned into one of the most patient hitters in the game and if he is able to stay healthy for a full season, would slot in perfectly in the 2-hole ahead of McCutchen, Longoria and Buster Posey. 

Projected lineup

1. Joe Panik - 2B
2. Brandon Belt - 1B
3. Andrew McCutchen - RF
4. Buster Posey - C
5. Evan Longoria - 3B
6. Hunter Pence - LF
7. Brandon Crawford - SS
8. Austin Jackson - CF

Projected rotation

1. Madison Bumgarner
2. Johnny Cueto
3. Jeff Samardzija
4. Ty Blach
5. Chris Stratton


The Giants tied for the worst record in Major League Baseball in 2017, surprising many around the league. Absolutely nothing went right for the team, from a lack of power on the field (Belt missed a third of the season and still led the team in homers), injuries (Bumgarner only made 17 starts) and general ineffectiveness (Mark Melancon).

But the Giants are a team that excels in even years, though the Cubs may have broken that juju by knocking San Fran out of the NLDS in 2016.

Still, between the return to health of key players and some big moves that improved the lineup, this team is primed for a return to form.

Watson is a nice piece at the back end of the bullpen and bet on a rebound from Melancon, who was one of the best late-inning relievers in the game from 2013-16 (1.80 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 147 saves).

Expect more out of the rotation with Bumgarner and Cueto a dynamic 1-2 punch. Cubs fans are familiar with what Samardzija can do if he gets on a role, too.

It seems crazy to pick the Giants to finish higher than the Diamondbacks, but they still have the same core of players from the championship years and have a much-improved roster.

Prediction: Second place in NL West, wild-card team

Complete opposition research

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Franciso Giants