As skid hits eighth, what team would want what Cubs have to sell?
It's getting to the point where the main question surrounding the Cubs isn't, "Will they be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline?"
The real question is, "What team would agree to give up useful pieces for what the Cubs have to sell?"
The Great Slump continued Saturday in Cincinnati, where the Cubs wasted another good starting pitcher performance and dropped their eighth game in a row, 3-2 to the Reds. The Cubs have now lost 8½ games in the standings in the past nine days and dropped to third place in the NL Central behind the Reds.
"Hitting, I really do think it's contagious. When everybody is collectively struggling, it's tough to break out of it," Kris Bryant said after the game. "We're waking up in another 12 hours and we've got another game to play. That's the crazy thing about this is you have to find a way to forget about good or bad.
"You have to be a little crazy. You've got to forget about what happened and we haven't been able to do that the last week, two weeks. There's going to be a point where it's just like, 'Screw this, let's win some games' and then win five in a row and feeling good and just ride the waves."
Yeah, it's been crazy all right. Here are some numbers to confirm how bad it's been.
Since June 1, and heading into Saturday's action, Bryant was hitting .133, Javy Baez .149, Ian Happ .153, Joc Pederson .204, Willson Contreras .213 and Anthony Rizzo .221.
Bryant did go 3-for-5 with a home run on Saturday. The Cubs' other hitting star was pitcher Adbert Alzolay, who successfully hit a ground ball to the right side in the second inning, allowing baserunner Rafael Ortega to get to third, where he then scored on a passed ball.
A little more of that and the Cubs would have been fine. In the fifth inning, Bryant singled and took second with nobody out. The Cubs needed a grounder to the right side from Baez, but he hit one to shortstop and Bryant was thrown out at second after straying too far from the bag.
In the seventh, the Cubs put runners on first and third with nobody out after another Bryant single. This time, Baez was retired on an infield pop up and Rizzo ended the inning by grounding into a double play.
"Not being able to push that across is kind of how it's going right now," Cubs manager David Ross said. "That's the little things we've got to do to win ballgames."
Alzolay recorded a quality start, completing 7 innings. After the Cubs took a 2-0 lead, he gave up solo home runs to Joey Votto and Tyler Naquin, which has been a problem for Alzolay this season. In the seventh, a walk and double by Tyler Stephenson put two runners in scoring position.
Ross let Alzolay try to work through it and he ended up giving up just 1 run, but it was the Reds' game-winner. This was a big improvement after one of Alzolay's worst starts last week in Los Angeles.
"I throw to the trash my last game right away," Alzolay said. "I didn't watch videos or anything, because like I said before, my body just wasn't in rhythm."
Nico Hoerner was back with the Cubs in Cincinnati on Saturday, but wasn't activated after playing the previous two games with Iowa. Hoerner has been out since May 25 with a hamstring strain, but it looks like he could return as soon as Sunday.
This was the Cubs 20th straight game with 8 or fewer hits. According to ESPN, that's only happened two other times since 1920, by the '72 Mets and '68 Yankees.
Cubs batters struck out 13 times on Sunday, and they've now recorded at least 11 strikeouts in nine of the last 11 games.
"It's pretty crazy what this game will dish out in terms of wins, losses, slumps, highs, lows," Bryant said. "You really don't see that in any other sport. I think it's important to realize, this stinks right now, but just keep our head up. As quick as it went south, it can go the other way again. You've got to believe in that and keep going."
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