Cubs

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Cubs

MILWAUKEE — Javy Baez always tells it like it is.

When the Cubs were stunned and knocked out of the playoffs last fall, he stood at his locker and explained exactly what went wrong and how. When he got to spring training, he explained how this team learned from last year and how they can carry it over into 2019.

So when the Cubs get out to a 2-7 start to the season, Baez is the best person to tell it like it is. 

"We've been playing good," Baez said after the Cubs' 4-2 loss to the Brewers Sunday afternoon. "We've been hitting the ball. It's just everything's been going the other way. We gotta make the adjustment and just try to get out of it. ... We just gotta keep staying positive and move on to the next day."

Sunday's loss ensured the Cubs have their worst record to open a season since the 1997 team rattled off 14 straight defeats before they were finally able to break out the W flag at Wrigley Field.

Obviously this is not the way anybody envisioned the beginning of the season to play out.

Nobody thought the Cubs would manage only three quality starts from this rotation in nine games or the bullpen would allow nearly a walk and a run per inning. Nobody predicted this defense — that has been a staple of the team's success the last few years — would be averaging more than an error a game and set a new Major League Baseball record with a catcher's interference in three straight games.

 

"Yeah, it sucks," Anthony Rizzo said. "You want to get off to a good start, right? You go to spring training, you're all like 'rah-rah, let's get off to a good start.' It's not 'rah-rah,' but that's the mentality. Every team has it.

"Some teams do [get off to a good start], some teams don't. We've been on ones that have and some that haven't. I think with the group we have, we know how good we are and string together good at-bats and everyone will settle in and it'll be good for us."

All things considered, the Cubs' loss Sunday had plenty of positives to take away.

The bullpen didn't implode — in fact, they tossed 4 shutout innings. The defense was fine — they did not commit an error after 11 miscues in the previous five games. The offense wasn't great, but they had some solid at-bats and also had to face maybe the best reliever in the game (Josh Hader) for the final 2.2 innings.

Kyle Hendricks was tagged for 4 runs in 4 innings, but outside of the first-inning homer to Christian Yelich, he wasn't hit all that hard and he only walked 1 batter. 

For all the offensive firepower the Cubs showed in the series (26 runs scored), their heart of the order struggled to make an impact — Baez, Rizzo and Kris Bryant combined to go 7-for-39 with 16 strikeouts. Those guys aren't going to produce every single day and it's definitely encouraging the rest of the lineup was able to pick up the slack at times.

But the common refrain in sports is you are what your record says you are. The Cubs are 5 games below .500 and 5.5 games behind the Brewers and it's not even mid-April yet.

So it's understandable fans are upset or even panicking.

"They can do whatever they want," Baez said. "I don't control them. They don't control my game or our game. We just gotta keep everything out of the clubhouse and just block everything negative that is coming to us right now and go out there and have fun."

Have the 2019 Cubs done a good job blocking out all the hate?

"Yeah, for sure," Baez said. "We're the Chicago Cubs. Obviously everybody's gonna talk about us and about 2016 and all this bullcrap. But like I said, I don't control that. I like it, 'cause when people talk about you, it's 'cause they care. They either care or they hate you."

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