Hope for the hitless wonders? Cubs think they're close

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Cubs' Anthony Rizzo throws his bat after striking out swinging during the fourth against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. The Cubs struggled at the plate against Brandon Woodruff. But after going hitless for six innings, the Cubs managed to take it to the wire before losing 4-2 in 10 innings.

    Cubs' Anthony Rizzo throws his bat after striking out swinging during the fourth against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. The Cubs struggled at the plate against Brandon Woodruff. But after going hitless for six innings, the Cubs managed to take it to the wire before losing 4-2 in 10 innings. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/7/2021 7:21 PM

For a team that managed to go 4-for-58 at the plate over the course of two games, the Cubs still fashioned an action-packed finish on Wednesday against Milwaukee.

Joc Pederson got his first hit with the Cubs, a game-tying homer off Brewers star reliever Devin Williams. The Cubs later loaded the bases in the bottom of the 10th, but eventually fell 4-2 at Wrigley Field.

 

So the question remains: Are Cubs hitters starting to get comfortable or is this team just awful at hitting? The Cubs finished the day with a .124 team batting average on the season.

"I think everyone's just trying to get comfortable," Pederson said. "Hitting's contagious and as a whole, we can all be a little bit better. But it's still super early. As much as you want to get hits and be productive, it's not that easy. The game's really hard.

"We have some really talented people in the group and when we get clicking it's going to be fun to be a part of and it's coming soon. So just enjoy the show."

Pederson was likely the most frustrated of the Cubs hitters. After a great spring that included 8 home runs, he was 0-for-15 before sending a blast deep into the right-field bleachers in the eighth inning, tying the game 1-1.

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He's far from alone. The team batting champ is currently a tie between Kris Bryant and Eric Sogard at .200. Willson Contreras is 1-for-14, Anthony Rizzo 2-for-19 and Ian Happ 2-for-16.

The good news is the Cubs managed to post a 3-3 record during their opening homestand, thanks to a 3.11 team ERA. Now they'll play the same teams again, during a six-game trip to Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.

Before the game, manager David Ross said he wasn't planning to ride the roller coaster of fretting about hitting slumps five games into the season.

"After going through a long stretch of one or two hits or whatever it was, it was still nice to see these guys continue to have the same at-bats, not get too frustrated, continue to grind at-bats," Ross said after the game. "That's a positive in my book."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Pederson has a little bit of an excuse after signing as a free agent from the Dodgers during the winter. But a lack of clutch hitting or success against good pitchers has been a Cubs problem for a few years.

"If I was to go 0-for-12 or 14 in the middle of the year when I'm hitting .280 with 25 homers, it's kind of like, 'All right, no big deal,'" Pederson said. "The start of the season's weird and people have to get in your grooves, your routine and just build off that. We're all headed in the right direction."

Kyle Hendricks made a nice improvement from his disappointing Opening Day outing and threw 6 scoreless innings. Milwaukee counterpart Brandon Woodruff tossed 6 perfect innings until Happ led off the seventh with a single. Later in that inning, Brewers right fielder Avisail Garcia made an impressive sliding catch after a long run to snag Bryant's pop fly, likely saving a run.

Milwaukee scored all its runs on two Lorenzo Cain home runs, including a 3-run blast to center field in the 10th inning off Brandon Workman.

"Woodruff for them was pitching unbelievable," Hendricks said. "Attacking the zone, really hitting his spots with electric stuff today. You've just got to tip your hat sometimes to guys, but we battled our butts off, man, just to give us a chance there late to win that ballgame. We're going to win those games more often than not."

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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