Cubs start in LA with no-hitter, end with big whiff
That cool breeze rolling past downtown Los Angeles the past few days may have been cause by Cubs bats, not the Pacific Ocean.
The Cubs spent three nights in a row flailing at pitches while piling up an alarming number of strikeouts against the Dodgers. The Cubs struck out 14 times on Friday, 16 times on Saturday, then had 15 in Sunday's 7-1 loss to Clayton Kershaw.
After opening this series with a no-hitter, the Cubs dropped the final three games in LA. They've now scored 2 or fewer runs in 11 of their last 14 outings, while losing 9 of the last 13.
When the game ended, the Cubs packed up to fly halfway across the country, where the first-place Milwaukee Brewers have their rotation set up to throw their three best starters at the Cubs -- Freddy Peralta. Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, in that order. Burnes has the worst ERA of the three at 2.53.
"You've got to be excited to face these type of guys," Patrick Wisdom said after the game. "If you look at in terms of, 'Oh, we've got this guy,' Then I think you're already kind of defeated before you step in the box.
"If you get excited to face these guys and you look forward to that challenge, then I think you can kind of handle the result, whatever it may be."
On Sunday, it was a lot of off-balance swings and misses. When the Cubs faced Kershaw at Wrigley Field on May 4, he lasted just one inning and gave up 4 runs.
In the rematch, Kershaw was dominant. His 13 strikeouts over 8 innings were the most he's had in a regular season game since 2017. The Cubs' lone run came on a Javy Baez homer after they were down 6-0.
"Without it sounding like excuses, 4 o'clock games at Dodger Stadium are never positive for anybody's batting average and contact," Cubs manager David Ross said. "I played here, I came up here. Those are usually going to be tough days, especially when those shadows kick in. They did a nice job of getting out ahead of us early on."
Anthony Rizzo left the game in the fourth inning with lower back tightness. After the game, Ross said Rizzo was getting checked out and had no update.
The Cubs badly needed a quality start from Adbert Alzolay on Sunday after Alec Mills lasted just 4 innings on Saturday and Jake Arrieta 5 innings on Friday.
They didn't get it. In the second inning, Alzolay loaded the bases with nobody out on a hit batsman and 2 walks, then Zach McKinstry followed with a grand slam. The Cubs could have been out of the inning on a grounder to short, but Baez's throw was in the dirt, Rizzo couldn't make the grab and Cody Bellinger followed with another homer to make it 6-0.
Alzolay left after 3 innings, with Tommy Nance and Rex Brothers mopping up.
"Everything was good, I just couldn't find my rhythm in the game," Alzolay said. "My body was super slow to home plate. All my pitches were all over the place."
One reason for optimism is the Cubs will have Kyle Hendricks on the mound Monday in Milwaukee. He's won his last eight starts.
Rehabbing in Iowa:
Nico Hoerner went 1-for-2 at the plate on the first day of his rehab assignment with the Iowa Cubs. Hoerner is coming back from a hamstring strain suffered on May 25.
On the pitching side, Trevor Williams (appendectomy) started Sunday's game and threw two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts. Justin Steele (hamstring) gave up a home run in his lone inning on the mound. All five pitchers used by Iowa on Sunday, including Kohl Stewart, Kyle Ryan and Trevor Megill, have pitched for the big-league Cubs this season.
Five Cubs players are finalists in All-Star Game voting -- Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras and Joc Pederson. Phase 2 of balloting begins Monday at 11 a.m. And concludes Thursday.