After a recent stretch of offensive competence at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago Cubs have apparently put away their bats again, struggling badly in the first two games of a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
In hindsight, I suppose it was silly to read anything into the offense generated by the Cubs against the Diamondbacks. The Arizona pitching staff has been consistently awful in 2014, with a team ERA currently sitting at 5.30, which is dead last in all of MLB. Not coincidentally, the Diamondbacks are sporting the second worst record in the league, better than only the Houston Astros. Of course, the Cubs are now 7-16 after Saturday night’s action, but this has more to do with a completely ineffectual lineup.
After scoring 19 runs in the first three games of the Arizona series, which can only be considered an offensive explosion for this group, the Cubs were totally shut down by a rookie named Mike Bolsinger, who had been lit up by the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first MLB start five days earlier. Bolsinger dominated the Cubs, allowing just one unearned run on four hits while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings of work. There is really no legitimate reason for this to occur.
The Cubs are now facing the Brewers in Milwaukee over the weekend, and with the Brewers pitching the way they are at the moment, the outcome of this series should be painfully clear. On Friday night, former Cub Matt Garza got his first win of the season by silencing Chicago over seven quality innings.
Saturday night brought more of the same, as it was Marco Estrada‘s turn to utterly mystify the Cubs’ bats. Estrada had allowed only a Luis Valbuena solo homer before Welington Castillo took him deep for a two-run shot in the eighth inning, but he still got the win. The two homers were certainly nice to see for the Cubs, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
It is understood that the Cubs are in the midst of a massive rebuild, but this fact doesn’t make it any less discouraging to watch this lineup flail helplessly game after game. There are signs of life here and there, but at the moment the Cubs simply don’t have the necessary firepower to compete at the big league level. We can only hope this will change relatively soon.