Cubs

Maddon trying to keep young Cubs loose through struggles

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Maddon trying to keep young Cubs loose through struggles

It's hard to stay negative in Joe Maddon's clubhouse.

The Cubs may have dropped two out of three to the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field over the weekend, but they left the stadium in style, sporting personalized Blackhawks sweaters for the trip to St. Louis.

That's just another way Maddon likes to keep things loose and fresh during the grind of a long season.

The Cubs scored just five runs in the series and have only six runs in the last four games after averaging 5.5 runs a game on a four-game winning streak from April 24-28.

Following the Cubs' 5-3 loss to the Brewers Sunday, Maddon said he felt the hitters' approaches were "OK."

"We had some opportunities, but we're not stringing [hits] together," Maddon said. "We're not really driving the ball like we can. We're definitely a team with more power than that.

"It's gonna come. As these young hitters get to understand what these other pitchers are trying to do against him and get their feet on the ground a little bit more, you're going to see them all become more consistent with their power.

"In the meantime, I love the fight. We didn't get it done today, but I'll take the effort."

[MORE: Cubs show support for Blackhawks with customized sweaters]

While Anthony Rizzo maintains his consistent production in the middle of the Cubs' lineup, a quartet of young players around him are enduring some struggles.

Addison Russell is on a modest six-game hitting streak and homered in Friday's win, but struck out five times in the series and is still hitting just .211 with a .599 OPS.

Kris Bryant remains homerless in his first 15 big-league games and apart from a gift double that popped out of the glove of Milwaukee second baseman Elian Herrera, Bryant was a non-factor in the series, going 0-for-9 with six strikeouts in his other at-bats against Brewers pitchers.

Jorge Soler entered the series in the midst of a 2-for-26 stretch, but showed signs of life against Milwaukee by going 5-for-12 with a double and a walk.

Starlin Castro may be in his sixth big-league season, but he's still just 25 and constantly refining his approach at the plate. He is mired in a 2-for-15 slump that has seen his average dip from .342 all the way to .309.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

This Cubs lineup has had a lot of success already this season and Maddon isn't stressing about the lack of success lately.

He wants to keep the pressure at bay, which is how things like the Blackhawks-themed road trip can wash away the negative feelings.

"From my perspective, I've been around stuff like this before," Maddon said. "With young hitters like these, you've got to be patient, just keep trying to give them the right information, keep them kinda loose, actually.

"That's the only way to do it. You can't be uptight on the major-league level. You have to go up there with a nice approach and a plan and we do. We have all that.

"But it'll come to fruition. Just one of those moments where some guys are struggling a bit right now, but it'll come back to us."

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Baseball players don't forget grudges. Javy Baez and Reds pitcher Amir Garrett gave an example of that on Saturday.

Garrett struck out Baez in the seventh inning of the first game of the Cubs-Reds doubleheader. Garrett showed some excitement with the strikeout and then said something to Baez. They both started jawing at each other and suddenly the benches cleared.

At first glance, it looked like Garrett was a bit too excited to get a strikeout with no one on base. Turns out Baez had his own bit of swag for Garrett last year (Friday was the one-year anniversary) in the form of a grand slam at Wrigley Field.

This time Garrett got Baez and wanted to even things up a bit.

Things didn't get too feisty despite the benches clearing, but Anthony Rizzo did rush to Baez's side at some speed. This could be a matchup to keep an eye out for in the future.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

Siera Santos, Kelly Crull, and David DeJesus go into the audio archives to break down the biggest games for the Cubs in Cincinnati.

David DeJesus gives us his top 3 ballgames with such gems as The Schwarber Game, The Kris Bryant Game, Starlin Castro’s debut, and Jake Arrieta’s second no hitter.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: