The good news for the Cubs Monday night as they try to end a losing streak that has waylaid their best shot at pulling off a playoff season against all odds is that they’re finally back home, with one of their best pitchers since April starting, facing a team that has not played well on the road.
On the other hand, the one Cubs starter better than Zach Davies the last two months, Kyle Hendricks, didn’t get enough support from the lineup (or reliever Dan Winkler) to beat the Reds and end the streak Sunday.
And the Phillies starter, Matt Moore, is coming off his best performance of the season (five scoreless against the Mets) after returning from a back injury.
So this nine-game losing streak the Cubs ride into the final seven-game stretch before the All-Star break might not go quite so gently — or easily — into the good night for a team that has scored two or fewer runs in 15 of its last 20 games, just because they’re back in friendlier confines.
And if it doesn’t, then suffice to say the 2021 Cubs will quickly find themselves in increasingly dubious company in franchise history.
“It can be tough at times, but I’ve been on teams that have had close to the losing streaks and close to the longest winning streaks in the same season,” All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel said. “We’ve put quite a few losses in a row together, but this team can do the same thing on the other side, and that’s all we’ve really got to focus on. We’ve got to get that first one and then we can go on a roll.”
Their nine-game losing streak already has been exceeded only once this century — by the 2012 team that lost 101 games, including 12 straight at one point.
And no Cubs team ever has had a losing streak longer than seven games and made the postseason.
But even one more loss added to the current streak would put the 2021 Cubs among only 15 in franchise history that have lost 10 in a row, and just four off the team record set by the 1997 team that lost its first 14 games.
One of the 14 on the list of double-digit streakers had an 11- and 10-game streak in the same season, in 1954.
Two of the three teams in franchise history that have lost at least 100 games make the double-digit losing-streak list (also 1962).
But Cubs history isn’t entirely filled with doom and hopelessness for its biggest consecutive-game losers.
One of those 14 teams on the list with 10-plus skids actually finished with a winning record. In fact, the 1970 Cubs had an 11-game winning streak the same year they lost 12 straight — and climbed back to a half-game back of first place in the division in September (eventually finishing five games out, in second place).
Maybe Kimbrel’s onto something. Maybe he’ll even stick around long enough to help demonstrate what he’s talking about.