Cubs' slump continues, with or without deGrom
After Tuesday's loss to New York, Cubs manager David Ross was asked what he'd tell his team about the daunting task of facing Mets ace Jacob deGrom the following night.
"We don't give pep talks around here," Ross answered. "We're going to run across some good pitching coming up. We understand that. This is part of baseball. We're going to go out and compete the way we do every single night."
DeGrom was as good as advertised. He faced nine Cubs hitters in the first three innings and struck out eight of them, everyone but Anthony Rizzo.
The job got less daunting when deGrom left the game after the third inning due to shoulder soreness. But the Cubs still finished the night with just 3 hits and lost their third straight to the Mets 6-3 on Wednesday.
"What he's doing is just amazing," Rizzo said of deGrom. "To be on the other side of it obviously is no fun, but you've got to appreciate what he's doing as a competitor, just mowing us down. I hope he's all right."
The Cubs have fallen back into some familiar bad habits where they are not making much contact. During this three-game series with the Mets, the Cubs are hitting .141 as a team (13-for-92) and every run they've scored has come on a home run.
When deGrom left, Rizzo greeted reliever Sean Reid-Foley with a long home run into the upper deck in right field, Rizzo's second of the series. But the Cubs stayed stuck on 1 hit until the ninth inning when Patrick Wisdom walked and Rafael Ortega followed with a 2-run homer.
Sergio Alcantara then picked up the Cubs' third hit of the night with a pinch-hit single, prompting the Mets to bring in closer Edwin Diaz with the tying run on deck. But he retired pinch-hitter Willson Contreras on a liner to center to end the game.
The Cubs continue to play short-handed. Kris Bryant missed Wednesday's game after getting hit by a pitch on the right hand the previous night. Contreras got the night off, except for pinch-hitting duty.
"We haven't hit with runners in scoring position in a while, so we just have to get that out of the way and get back on track, get on base, take our walks," Rizzo said. "As an offense as a whole, we just haven't done that well. Our guys, we're grinding, but that's what we do.
"Just keep playing. We know there's up and downs in the season. The Mets play really well at home, we know that. They've lived up to it and we've just come up on the short end."
Cubs starter Robert Stock didn't have a great night, walking six with one hit batter while giving up 5 runs in 4 innings. This was Stock's first major league start, though he's collected more than 50 relief appearances with the Padres and Red Sox.
"Left the ball up," Stock said. "Big league hitters are better than minor league ones at not chasing them. Maybe nerves or for whatever reason, I just kept throwing my fastball too high.
"The fact that I could even give the team four innings on a day where we were without a starter when I was struggling with my command, that's the only positive I think I'll take from tonight. Otherwise, back to the drawing board and getting better and improving."
The Cubs are in a similar situation to where they were against San Francisco 10 days ago. They dropped the first three games of that series, then got a clutch performance from Kyle Hendricks and started a new hot streak. Hendricks is set to face New York's Marcus Stroman on Thursday.