Cubs tailspin continues with another 1-run loss in St. Louis
There is good news to report from the Cubs' latest 1-run loss in St. Louis: Their batting average with runners in scoring position improved significantly.
The Cubs went 1-for-14 in those situations during Wednesday's extra-inning loss. On Thursday, they hit .500 with runners in scoring position, but then again, going 1-for-2 didn't do much to prevent a 3-2 defeat.
Jake Marisnick's 2-run double in the fourth inning provided the lone burst of offense. The Cubs had 3 hits in the game and just 3 baserunners over the final four innings. For Marisnick, the double snapped an 0-for-15 run at the plate.
"That's baseball," he said. "You go out there, put good swings on the ball, sometimes they fall, sometimes they don't. You can't dwell on them, though. The past is the past. You've got to keep going, keep working, put one foot in front of the other. It was nice to get one there, but at the end of the day, we're here to get wins."
Cubs starter Adbert Alzolay pitched 6 innings with 8 strikeouts. But his problems with the long ball returned, as he gave up a solo shot in the first inning to Dylan Carlson and a 2-run homer in the third to Nolan Arenado, officially putting the game out of reach for the Cubs offense.
Anthony Rizzo, hitting .203 in July, tried to shake his slump by going to the plate without batting gloves once during Wednesday's game, but it didn't help.
"It's been a while since I haven't used batting gloves," Rizzo said. "Hey, it's just one of those things where you're trying to relax a little bit. I've been putting in the work. I feel really good in the cage."
Kris Bryant (hamstring) was not in the starting lineup, but he did walk in a pinch-hitting appearance and manager David Ross said before the game he expects Bryant to be back on the field Friday when the Cubs host Arizona.
Also, the Cubs did not activate Matt Duffy from the injured list as expected. Instead, they brought in an extra pitcher, with Trevor Megill throwing a scoreless inning, and infielder Sergio Alcantara was sent to Iowa.
Things have been dreary for the Cubs for several weeks now. The latest loss dropped their record to 5-17 since June 25. With the MLB trade deadline looming in a week, several players have to be wondering if this will be their last homestand at Wrigley Field.
"We're worried about our work in here," Marisnick said. "Worried about getting in here and getting your work done. There's not much talk among each other about trades and stuff like that. It's all, 'What can we do to get better today.' I know guys have been saying that, but that's honestly what's going on in here. Guys are focused on the next day and focused on the next pitch, and finding ways to improve themselves and improve this team."
Asked if players are bracing themselves for what the roster might look like in another week or so, Marisnick repeated that it's not a topic of conversation.
"We're bracing for tomorrow," he said. "We're getting ready to play tomorrow. There's not much chat in here about what's going on. We can't control it. At the end of the day, what we can control is going out there and taking care of business and the work we're doing behind the scenes."
And while the Cubs have been losing, Marisnick said the enthusiasm is still high, which has been displayed on the field when things go well.
"I've been around other teams and groups of people that hang their heads in these situations, but these guys are coming to work every day and getting the work in," he said. "Sometimes the ball doesn't go your way.
"Obviously, it's a lot more fun to win, but this group is battling, competing and lifting a each other up. A guy like Rizzo's a spark plug in this clubhouse. He's kept us positive through some of these tough losses."