Back to reality.
After getting 7 straight quality starts, the Cubs trotted Edwin Jackson out to the mound Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers.
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Cubs scouting reportCubs vs. New York Mets at Citi Field
TV: WGN Friday and Saturday; Comcast SportsNet Sunday and Monday
Radio: WGN 720-AM
Pitching matchups: The Cubs' Travis Wood (7-9) vs. Zack Wheeler (7-8) Friday at 6:10 p.m.; Dan Straily (1-2 with Oakland) vs. Jonathon Niese (6-8) Saturday at 6:10 p.m.; Jake Arrieta (6-4) vs. Rafael Montero (0-3) Sunday at 12:10 p.m.; Kyle Hendricks (4-1) vs. Bartolo Colon (11-10) Monday at 11:10 a.m.
At a glance: The Cubs swept the Mets in three at Wrigley Field in June. The Mets entered Thursday night's home game against Washington trying to stay relevant in the NL East and in the wild-card race. Both teams struggle offensively. The Mets went into Thursday 10th in runs scored, 14th in batting average and slugging, and 13th in home runs. The Cubs were 11th in runs, 13th in average, and 14th in on-base percentage. Their recent power surge, however, put them third in the NL in homers going into Thursday. Lucas Duda led the Mets in homers (21), RBI (64) and OBP (.352) while Daniel Murphy had a line of .303/.346/.434 with 9 homers and 51 RBI.
Next: San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field, Tuesday-Thursday
-- Bruce Miles
Jackson had 1 of those quality starts in the run of 7, but it was back to the pitcher Cubs fans have come to know all too well during a 6-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers before 38,157 on an unseasonably cool day at Wrigley Field.
It just hasn't happened for Jackson in his nearly two years with the Cubs, and Thursday's performance was emblematic of his entire stay so far.
He lasted just 4⅔ innings and gave up 7 hits and 5 runs as his record fell to 6-13 with a league-worst (among qualifiers) 5.74 ERA.
Jackson lost a National League-high 18 games last year with an ERA of 4.98.
"I feel like I was way too mechanical, thinking about a lot of things than I should have been instead of keeping the ball down in the zone and throwing strikes," he said. "I never felt like I got into a rhythm. I felt like I was here and there. I never found that happy medium, either. I was too low or too high."
Jackson presented a stark contrast in approaches from the previous two Cubs pitchers. Rookie Kyle Hendricks and lefty Tsuyoshi Wada each worked quickly in their victories over the Brewers.
It seems Jackson might have picked up on their examples, but at nearly 31 years old, he's pretty much set in his ways, and stepping up the pace isn't likely to happen even though his manager might like to see that.
"I think a lot of things we see, quite frankly that we talk about a lot, is his tempo, to see if we can get him on the hill a little quicker," said Rick Renteria, who added there are no plans to bump Jackson out of the rotation. "See if he can speed up that process. I imagine if I have to look back at all of his starts through his whole career, he's kind of been a slower tempo-type guy.
"We all know if you have a guy that has a quicker pace, a little quicker tempo, the whole game seems to flow a little bit better. But at the same token, if you know that's the type of guy you have, if you're on the defensive side of it, whatever the case might be, you still have to stay on your toes."
On the offensive side of it, the Cubs didn't do much with Brewers starting pitcher Mike Fiers, who struck out a career-high 14.
In the seven games on this homestand, against Milwaukee and Tampa Bay, Cubs batters struck out a whopping 77 times while walking just seven. Rookie Javier Baez fanned four times to lead the way Thursday, and three other Cubs struck out twice each.
Renteria, however, dug in his heels on this issue when asked if he was alarmed.
"No," he said. "I think what you're looking at is -- I would have to go back and tally all the Ks to see who has sustained them and evaluate in those particular at-bats what it was or what might have been the process or the approach at that particular time for certain individuals.
"Today you have to tip your cap to a guy (Fiers) who had great angle, great deception. It seemed like he was commanding everything he had today. He struck out 14 today, correct? OK. So I tip my cap to him because he's getting paid to do what he did to us, too. In terms of the totality of the strikeouts through the homestand, some of them might be just more linked to approaches. So those are things we'll continue to work on.
"Alarming? No. They're just little signals things we have to work on."