The Cubs have found plenty of ways to lose in the past week and a half: a shutout, another blowout, a couple comebacks that just fell short.
On Sunday, the Cubs lost to the Marlins 4-1, marking their 11th straight loss and matching the infamous skid a month ago that dragged the team out of contention. For the first time since 1954, the Cubs have posted two double-digit losing streaks in the same season.
“Losing is not fun,” said right-hander Alec Mills, who allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings Sunday. “Winning is a lot more fun. Obviously, a bad stretch for us. We're just trying to attack every day with positivity and really just trying to come together as a team.”
Despite there being only seven weeks left in the season, this group hasn’t played together much. Why? Because of that first 11-game losing streak.
Starting in late June and ending in early July, it took them from the top of the division standings to fourth in the NL Central, nine games back of the Brewers. The Cubs shifted from trade deadline buyers to sellers. They traded away 1/3 of their active roster between the All-Star game and the trade deadline.
The Cubs have won just two games since the deadline and have been swept in three straight series.
“The main thing for me is, we continue to fight till the end,” Cubs manager David Ross said after the game Sunday. “They're having good at-bats, and the areas that we fall short, we're trying to coach through and grow from and work on.
“The big leagues are difficult. It's a grown man's league, and you’ve got to put your big boy pants on every single day, come into work and try your best that day. And I see our guys doing that.”
Minutes earlier, the Cubs had put two baserunners on in the ninth inning with no outs, bringing the tying run to the plate. But two strikeouts and a groundout cemented the final result.
The whole series was made up of extinguished comeback attempts. On Friday, after falling behind 12-4 in the second inning, the Cubs rallied, only to lose 14-10. The next day, the Cubs took the lead in the top of eighth inning, but they gave it up the next frame.
“A lot of guys are young, a lot of guys don't have a lot of big-league time here,” right-hander Zach Davies said this weekend. “They're seeing this version of our team, where we can still battle, we can still fight, and try and make it hard on teams that we do play that are in the playoffs, and make it a little bit more difficult, to not just be another game.”
Those recent efforts just haven’t resulted in wins.
“We've had some good stretches in games,” Mills said. “Haven't really put a full game together recently, but it'll come.”