Cubs insist fatigue not a factor in 10-4 rout by White Sox
The Cubs are looking like a tired bunch right now.
That's easy to understand. They're coming off a stretch of 30 game days, with a day off Thursday coming after an overnight flight from Phoenix.
"We've just been through a very difficult stretch for those who have been following," joked manager Joe Maddon before his team was pounded 10-4 Friday by the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. "We've been on the road a bit. Actually, it's almost like you need a day off after a day off. Your first day off in 30 days, how do you react to that next day? Just watching the guys in the clubhouse, they seem to be fine."
Not even the emotional return of pitcher Jose Quintana to the South Side could do much to inspire the Cubs, who were pretty well shut down by White Sox starter Reynaldo Lopez.
Quintana lasted 5-plus innings, giving up 9 hits and 5 runs, 3 coming on a second-inning home run by Kevan Smith.
Tired or not, the first-place Cubs (89-64) have business to take care of over the final nine games of the season if they're going to win the National League Central and make their fourth straight postseason appearance.
They've been outscored 19-4 over the last two games, having been blanked 9-0 Wednesday at Arizona.
Maddon has been realistic about the fatigue factor, and he said he doesn't believe his players are letting talk of it get to them and making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
"I don't think we have let it," he said after the game. "So let's just trust in the power of 24 hours, come on back and play our game tomorrow and not get too caught up in one game."
Quintana (13-11), who pitched for the White Sox from 2012 until being traded to the Cubs in July of last year, made his first career appearance against his former team.
"Everything was the same," he said. "I threw a lot of years here. It was good to be back. I tried to have a better showing for the fans. I didn't have nerves this time. Maybe I pushed to give a better show for the fans today. Every time we go to the mound we try to do the best. That never changes. I feel bad about this outing, but I don't have time for stuff."
The Cubs, who have been up and down offensively, were outhit 19-9 by the White Sox. Daniel Murphy had 3 hits for the Cubs, including a home run to lead off the game. He credited Lopez for stopping the Cubs' attack.
"He did a really good job, especially when runners got on, of altering his times to the plate, which really disrupts the rhythm and timing of the hitter," he said. "He kind of had that live fastball going, middle to top of the zone. I know that even my first at-bat, was fortunate to get a piece of that one up."
The Cubs also dealt with the distraction before the game of shortstop Addison Russell being put on administrative leave by Major League Baseball as it investigates accusations of domestic abuse by his ex-wife.
"We're not the first team in history to deal with something like that," Murphy said. "I don't think that had a huge bearing on today's outcome. Controlling the things you can control, coming to the ballpark ready to play and seeing what you can do that day to help the club win, that's within our control."