Cubs' bats continue to stay silent against Rockies as losing streak hits four

Cubs' bats continue to stay silent against Rockies as losing streak hits four

The Colorado Rockies came to the North Side, and the Cubs' bats vanished.

For the third straight game against the visitors from the Mile High City, the Cubs did almost nothing offensively, getting just four hits off Rockies starter Jeff Hoffman in a 9-1 loss Saturday afternoon.

After scoring one run on five hits in the series-opener Thursday night and three runs on three hits in Friday's loss, the Cubs scored just once and mustered five hits in Saturday's defeat, their fourth straight dating back to the series-finale with the Marlins on Wednesday night.

The Cubs couldn't do much of anything against Hoffman, who entered with a thin 2.61 ERA in his first four appearances of the season. Saturday, Hoffman allowed just one hit in his first six innings of work before the Cubs finally strung a few knocks together to stop the shutout in the seventh.

The North Siders missed out on an early scoring chance, when Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo got to second and third with one out in the first inning. But Ben Zobrist struck out swinging and Jason Heyward grounded out to end the threat.

Hoffman kept the Cubs quiet from there, finishing with just one run and four hits allowed in 6.1 innings, striking out eight.

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The Cubs staged a minor uprising in the seventh, Heyward, Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras stitched three consecutive one-out singles together to finally get the Cubs on the board and chase Hoffman. But two outs against two different Rockies relievers followed to end that rally.

The Rockies, meanwhile, had little trouble getting on the board, scoring a pair of first-inning runs off Cubs starting pitcher — and former Rockies hurler — Eddie Butler on RBI doubles off the bats off DJ LeMahieu and Mark Reynolds.

Reynolds launched a solo home run onto Waveland Avenue to make it 3-0 in the fourth, and Charlie Blackmon crushed a pitch onto Sheffield Avenue in the seventh to make it 4-0.

Butler exited after five innings, surrendering three runs on six hits. While Butler still has just one start that's lasted six innings, he's allowed three runs or fewer in all but one of his six starts.

The Rockies tacked on three more runs in the ninth, Nolan Arenado clearing the bases with a two-out double that jumped the scored up to 7-1. An eighth run scored on a wild pitch later in the inning, and the Rockies got their ninth run on an Ian Desmond base hit on the next pitch.

The Cubs will try to prevent a five-game skid when they send Jake Arrieta to the mound in the finale of this four-game set Sunday.

'We gotta bring it' — Cubs looking for motivation with five games left


'We gotta bring it' — Cubs looking for motivation with five games left

Thanks to a 6-0 loss to the Pirates Tuesday night, the Cubs are in an uncomfortable position in the NL Central division with just a half-game lead and five left to play, yet the clubhouse remains confident.

In fact, Mike Montgomery — who surrendered five runs on seven hits in four innings Tuesday — said after the game that this loss might serve a positive purpose.

"We got a resilient bunch of guys. We know where we’re at, and it’s kind of a little bit of motivation," Montgomery said. "We gotta bring it these last five games. Our guys know that, we’re not going to get discouraged. We’re going to regroup and get ready for tomorrow."

The Cubs have little choice but to bring it, especially with the red-hot Brewers scoring more runs on Tuesday night (12) than the Cubs have in their last three games combined. The Cubs did score 8 and then 6 runs on Saturday and Sunday on the South Side, but they turned around and put up only a single run Monday night before being blanked Tuesday. 

Joe Maddon said after the shutout loss that the up-and-down nature of his offense is a frustration.

"We're not happy. And again it’s really coming down to the one component of the game we just haven’t been good at recently, and that’s offense," Maddon said. "And then you have to be careful because guys start pressing even more."

In the loss, the Cubs got four hits off of Pirates starter Chris Archer, but he struck out nine and squashed any remote scoring opportunity almost as quickly as it arose. Whether or not the lineup is pressing, they struggled to put together good at bats against Archer.

"This has been going on for a bit — our offense has been very inconsistent. I mean, Archy was good, but we just got to fight through that, especially this time of the year," Maddon said.

Leadoff man Daniel Murphy started the game with a promising single for the Cubs, but the rest of the lineup couldn't turn that into a go-ahead run. The Pirates followed up with a three-run homer in the second inning, setting the Cubs up to chase for the rest of the night. 

"Our concept of scoring first is going to be pretty important," Maddon said of the next five games. "We have to grab the lead and hold on to it."

But, like Montgomery, Murphy saw some positive takeaway from Tuesday's loss.

"I think that what this club has done a really good job of is kinda washing off a poor performance, which is unfortunately what we've had the last two nights," Murphy said. "We'll go home, we'll sleep up, see our families, and see if we can come in here tomorrow and play a little bit better."

The pressure of a very close division race that is coming down to the final days is real, and Montgomery said that it creates the win-or-go-home playoff atmosphere in these last games. That's a challenge he and his teammates are up for. 

"We’ve grinded out this whole year. We have a lot of good players, a lot of guys who have been through a lot of different things," Montgomery said.

He knows a bit about that, having pitched the final out of the 2016 World Series. The core of the group that won that championship is largely still intact, but the success of the postseason two years ago feels further away in history when the picture to win the division is looking increasingly bleak. 

Unless the Brewers slow down, the Cubs are in a position where they have to nearly win out to keep from losing their hold on the NL Central. That said, they are a virtual lock for a postseason spot no matter what, thanks to the wild card. 

Not really a desirable outcome for a 90+ win team, but a loss for the Cardinals and a win for the Rockies on Tuesday put the Cubs' magic number to at least get in to the postseason down to one.

But that's not the outcome the team is expecting, and certainly not the one they're shooting for. Montgomery said that losing both the pitching and the hitting battle to the Pirates Tuesday is a little fuel for the Cubs.

"Take it like every game matters from this point on," Montgomery said of the team's mindset for the next five days. "Our guys are equipped for that, and mentally this gives us a chance to really come together as a group and go out there and perform our best baseball."

Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Can the Cubs clinch the playoff berth or will the Brewers continue to sneak up on them?


Baseball Night in Chicago Podcast: Can the Cubs clinch the playoff berth or will the Brewers continue to sneak up on them?

Ozzie Guillén and Scott Podsednik join Leila Rahimi from the studio to talk about the Cubs potential for clinching the playoff berth. Will the Brewers continue to sneak up on the Cubs?

Plus, Is Moncada's season considered a success?

Listen here or in the embedded player below!