As they looked to snap their losing streak, it looked like the Cubs were in for a tough task Wednesday against the Phillies.
Philadelphia ace Zack Wheeler was on the mound. The wind was blowing in on a chilly summer night at Wrigley Field. Javy Báez (thumb) was a late scratch from the lineup.
The Cubs have said on several occasions during their recent losing streak that things haven’t gone their way at times. Wednesday certainly could have qualified, if they lost.
Instead, they got to Wheeler early and often, going on to win 8-3 to end their losing streak.
Manager David Ross pointed to the Cubs’ offense as one of the few positives after Tuesday's loss, their 11th straight. The Cubs scored 10 times, their most runs since May 29 (also 10).
“The offense may have found a spark,” Ross said. “Hopefully we can carry some of that into [Wednesday].”
That’s exactly what they did, and they wasted no time doing so. They scored three times off Wheeler in the first Wednesday, all without hitting a home run.
Kris Bryant reached on an error, and Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, Nico Hoerner and Rafael Ortega all singled — the latter three tallying RBIs.
They tacked on two more runs off Wheeler in the second, with Rizzo hitting an RBI triple and Contreras driving him in with a single to center field.
“The old adage, hitting is contagious, I think it can go both ways,” Ross said after Wednesday’s win. “You get a little bit of momentum from last night and then carry it over.”
After a hot May that helped them ascend up the NL Central standings, the Cubs offense struggled during a June gauntlet schedule full of strong opposing pitching. The struggles took center stage during the skid.
After their last win, June 24, against the Dodgers, the Cubs scored two or fewer runs in seven of 11 games. They faced the likes of Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff and Sonny Gray during the streak.
That they got to Wheeler is promising. He entered the day with the fifth best ERA in baseball (2.05). He had allowed only five runs total in his previous six starts (39 innings), good for a 1.15 ERA.
“I feel like every day we’re getting another horse,” Anthony Rizzo said. “You’ve just got to stay disciplined and try to get something you can handle.”
It was only one game, but that disciplined approach stood out. Eight of the 10 hits were singles.
“I thought a lot of those guys stayed up the middle, were willing to get beat," Ross said, "willing to use the big part of the field and really good things happened against a really good pitcher.”