Epstein apologizes for rough start as Cubs snap losing skid
MILWAUKEE -- Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein made the trip to Miller Park on Saturday, and he said he feels the fans' pain over the team's slow start.
The Cubs went out and eased some of that pain by pasting the Milwaukee Brewers 14-8 at Miller Park. That snapped a six-game losing streak and improved the Cubs' record to 2-6.
Cole Hamels turned in 6 innings of 2-run ball, and Jason Heyward hit a pair of homers, singled, walked twice and stole 2 bases for the Cubs.
Particularly galling to all involved has been the pitchers' inability to throw enough strikes and the defense making too many errors.
"It's been real close to, if not, a worst-case scenario for us defensively and in terms of our pitching, especially the strike-throwing," Epstein said. "That gets your attention in a negative way. It's not the start any of us wanted. We're sorry we're putting our fans through this. We want to put our best foot forward. It's not like we're brushing it off in the least. It's got our attention and then some. We know that we need to change the script. We also know we control that. It's on us to play better ball defensively, throw more strikes, and this thing should stabilize in a hurry. I think it's important to do that pretty soon."
One thing Epstein said he was not going to do was play the blame game, especially when comes to first-year pitching coach Tommy Hottovy or even team chairman Tom Ricketts.
"There's always a search for scapegoats when you get off to a tough start," he said. "Tommy Hottovy is not the problem. He's a big part of the solution. Tom Ricketts is not the problem. It's not a resource issue. I know he's another one who's been taking a lot of heat. It's not a resource problem. If people have a problem with the allocation of resources, then that's me, and it has been ever since I got here.
"It's a teamwide issue, and we know we have to play better ball. But something like a search for magic bullets or scapegoats, I don't think that's really productive. I understand it, but ultimately it's all my responsibility -- how we play on the field, the talent that we have, the direction we're headed."
Manager Joe Maddon said he's not feeling any extra pressure because of the poor start in the fifth season of his five-year contract.
"Zero," he said. "The last four years have been pretty good. If I have to rely on a week's worth of baseball games, that's a bad process."
The Cubs fell behind Saturday when Lorenzo Cain led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run against Cole Hamels.
Jason Heyward hit a 2-run homer for the Cubs in the second against Corbin Burnes before the Brewers tied it in the bottom of the inning on Cain's sacrifice fly.
The Cubs took a 4-2 lead in the fifth. Heyward led off with an infield single and stole second base. He rode home on Victor Caratini's first homer of the season.
Javier Baez's leadoff homer began a 3-run sixth for the Cubs, who then sweated as newly recalled relievers Kyle Ryan and Allen Webster let the Brewers back into the game with a 3-run bottom of the seventh. The Cubs blew it open in the eighth with 7 runs.
"It's a great day," Heyward said. "It's good to be a part of the offense. A lot of guys out there fighting their tails off, looking for a result to help the team win. It's just good to contribute to that."