Despite 6-1 drubbing, Maddon says Cubs aren't looking past Padres
The Cubs had to be looking forward to this part of their schedule.
They have the San Diego Padres in town for four games this weekend before moving on to Kansas City for three against the Royals.
Both the Padres and Royals are dead last in their respective divisions.
What the Cubs don't want to do is look past this part of their schedule. That's always the danger when a first-place team plays the bottom feeders.
"I want to believe that we're at the point now, and especially when you get to this time of year, it really shouldn't matter," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said before the Cubs lost 6-1 to the Padres Thursday night at Wrigley Field. "You shouldn't have to play the '27 Yankees to get up for the game. You should be able to show up as professionals and realize -- you do realize -- how these games matter and you can't just take anybody or anything for granted.
"I want to believe we're there. I can't deny that I've seen us play maybe to the level of our competition, and it's probably happened this year at some point, too. It was more obvious even last year at the beginning."
Cubs lefty Mike Montgomery hooked up with Padres left-hander Robbie Erlin, and neither team scored until the Cubs put across a run in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to some adroit baserunning by Willson Contreras, who led off the inning with a walk.
After Ian Happ struck out, Addison Russell singled Contreras to third. Maddon allowed Montgomery to bat, and he chopped one to Erlin, who threw to second base for the forceout. Contreras broke for home and slid around the tag of catcher Austin Hedges. Contreras originally was called out, but replay overturned the decision.
Things got interesting in the top of the sixth as Montgomery retired Hunter Renfroe before walking Eric Hosmer. At that point, Maddon removed Montgomery, who had thrown 79 pitches.
In came right-hander Jesse Chavez, and he gave up a single to Christian Villanueva and a 3-run homer to Hedges. The Padres added a run in the seventh against Justin Wilson.
"Felt good about Chavez coming in, and he just gave up a homer," Maddon said. "It just happens."
Maddon added that he felt Montgomery wasn't "overtly sharp" but that he was able to get out of jams. Maddon said he thought about pinch-hitting for Montgomery in the fifth but was trying to get more out of a starting pitcher.
"I don't want to keep taking him out after 5, and I almost did," Maddon said. "But had he gone 1-2-3 the next inning, that would have been a nice boon for us, also. We scored the run, but we continually take the starters off after 5. Hosmer was coming up second the next inning. He ends up walking, and that's why I took him out anyhow."
Montgomery endured a 12-hit outing on July 27 at St. Louis and said he felt better Thursday.
"Definitely an improvement from the last game," he said. "I've been working some things. I thought I did better tonight. I thought I made some good pitches when I needed to. Credit to them (the Padres). They got some hits I made good pitches on.
"I felt good with where I was at. I wanted, obviously, to go farther, but that's not up to me. That's just how the game works. I'm fine with the decisions he (Maddon) makes."