The Chicago Cubs have for years been a staple of Sunday Night Baseball TV shows, including thanks to star cast, national fans and the photogenic platform they call home.
Wrigley Field looks as good as ever, and fans are still the masses when the weather is good and the beer is cold.
But ESPN’s game on Sunday night against the Los Angeles Dodgers could be one of the Cubs ’last appearances in 2022 in the trend of their season.
There are just so many ways to talk about Wrigley before admitting the obvious: Cubs aren’t ready for prime time.
The Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw dominated Saturday with a 7-0 victory in the first double-header match, giving the Cubs their 12th defeat in 15 games. They entered seven games under 0.500 at 9-16.
As of June 14, 2021, they have a win percentage of 0.344 (42-80), continuing from where they left off last season. Daniel Norris was scheduled to host his second double-header game, making his first start on August 2, 2020 with the Detroit Tigers.
After Thursday and Friday postponementthe sun finally peeked out in Wrigley on a cold Saturday afternoon, so it wasn’t a complete loss for the announced crowd of 37,594 people – with the help of a large contingent of Dodgers fans.
Even fans of Cubs, who hate Dodger, should have been excited to watch the 34-year-old Kershaw, a future Hall of Fame member, challenge his age with another dominant performance.
“At some point you feel like the ball will bounce in our direction or some of those balls will fall,” said manager David Ross, who pointed to several heavy balls of the Dodgers veteran.
Maybe, but Kershaw scattered five shots in seven innings to improve the score to 4-0. He has a 1.00 ERA for the last three starts and he is one of three starts this season with 30 or more strikeouts and three or fewer walks.
Repulsing blows to the side, flaws in the Cubs’ basement were also demonstrated at the start.
“While making outings at bases, we can’t do that if you face such a good pitcher,” Ross said.
After Kershaw selected Seya Suzuki from first base to complete the first inning, Nika Herner was noted to have rushed to second base to complete the second. Reaching a hit on the backyard, Herner apparently believed the erroneous throw hit the camera well and bounced, giving him the right to a free base. Ross said Herner had to wait until the judge made the call.
“Just one of those hard lessons,” Ross said.
Drew Smiley held out 4⅓ innings in the first league, allowing two earned runs on six strokes and four moves in his return from the loss list. Problems with command in the first put the Cubs in a quick hole, and his only other mistake was a fourth-half home run by Austin Barnes.
Ross said Smiley threw “extremely well”, but Smiley admitted that “it wasn’t very sharp today … and threw a bunch of fields” in the first.
“This is probably the worst team you can face if you are not aggressive in the zone and do not attack,” said Smiley. “They’re not really chasing.”
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Ross admitted before the game that the Cubs ’starting teams had not collectively realized their potential, but he still believes they could become a“ solid underwater headquarters if we continue to follow the trajectory we are following ”.
But Cubs can no longer use the excuse of a short spring workout to explain that their 5.16 ERA is entering the day or the lack of quality starts. The Cubs started five or more innings in just nine of the first 25 games that go into the nightclub. The only starters who threw more than five innings were Marcus Stroman (twice) and Kyle Hendrix (three times).
Justin Steele, who has made a 9.35 ERA over the last three starts and has failed to withstand more than three innings in either, has been relegated to play Monday night in San Diego. The cubs have only four starters on the list, although Ross said Steele’s move “was a product of how our list was formed.”
Wade Miley said he would hold a bullpen session on Sunday after giving four zero innings on rehab for Triple-A Iowa on Thursday. Miley may be ready to join the team on an upcoming trip to San Diego and Arizona.
It won’t save the season. But at this point the Cubs can use all the help they can get.
“It takes a lot to win a game,” Smiley said. “They are never easy.”
And Cubs are harder than ever.