Cubs' home run reliant offense hits wall vs. Mets
During the past week, the Cubs won five of six games but hit just .195 as a team and 11 of their 30 hits were home runs.
Is the offense regressing into old bad habits, with the lack of contact and reliance on home runs?
"What did you say our record was?" Cubs manager David Ross said when asked about the state of the offense. "That's all I care about. I think we've done a nice job of winning ballgames with a lot of guys on the injured list."
The start of a New York road trip did nothing to remedy the situation. The Cubs collected just 3 hits, two of them were home runs, and they lost to the Mets 5-2, ending their five-game winning streak.
Lack of contact has been a persistent problem over the years for the Cubs, and at the start of this season they weren't hitting at all. The remedy seemed to be adding contact hitters such as Matt Duffy, Nico Hoerner and Jake Marisnick to the lineup.
Marisnick started in center field Monday with a left-hander on the mound. Duffy (back) and Hoerner (hamstring) are on the injured list. Duffy may be heading on a rehab assignment soon, while Hoerner probably is still a couple of weeks from playing.
But the Cubs couldn't do much against Mets starter David Peterson. They scored their runs on back-to-back homers by Anthony Rizzo and Patrick Wisdom against reliever Trevor May in the seventh.
"I didn't see anything crazy wrong with this game," Ross said. "I thought they pitched a really good game and made some defensive plays and we came up a little bit short."
Peterson was coming off two rough starts. He gave up a combined 9 earned runs and lasted just 3 innings against a couple of losing teams, Arizona and Baltimore.
But he shut down the Cubs on 1 hit over 6 innings Monday, with 2 walks. It was the first time Peterson didn't allow a run, in his 12th start of the season. On May 14 at Tampa Bay, he did pitch into the eighth inning with a 2-0 lead but gave up a pair of runs.
When Pederson started at Wrigley Field on April 21, he gave up 6 runs, 3 earned, in less than four innings and the Mets lost 16-4.
Meanwhile, Cubs starter Jake Arrieta looked good for 3 innings, then gave up 3 runs in the fourth. There were two outs and a runner on first, but a walk, single by James McCann and 2-run double from Kevin Pillar gave the Mets all the runs they needed.
"I had a multiple opportunities to get out of the fourth unscathed," Arrieta said. "Damage was done with two outs and some of it was self-inflicted. Started out really sharp, felt great and felt good throughout the game. Couple walks in there were unnecessary and the McCann single wasn't hard contact, just wasn't a well-located fastball and he was able to sneak the ball up the middle."
Shortstop Javy Baez was on the bench for the second straight game, due to a thumb issue. He did pinch hit in the eighth inning and grounded out.
One milestone for the bullpen was Tommy Nance gave up the first run of his major-league career after 12 scoreless innings. In the sixth inning, Nance walked two in a row after getting the first two outs, and pinch hitter Brandon Drury parked an RBI single into center field.
Earlier this season, Keegan Thompson went 15 innings before giving up his first major-league earned run.
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