It was a tough series against the Cardinals, as the Cubs dropped three of four. On the positive side, the Cubs easily could have taken three of four if it weren’t for some shaky pitching.
The moral of the story is that the Cubs know they can compete with the Cardinals.
“The gap is repetition,” Maddon said after yesterday’s 5-1 loss. “They out-compete us experience-wise. That’s it. And we will make that up.”
From catcher Miguel Montero: “I don’t think there’s any gap. I think we compete.”
Of course the Cubs wouldn’t admit if they truly felt intimidated by St. Louis. But I don’t think these are just cliched responses we’re hearing. I believe the Cubs can hang as well.
Really all they need to do is straighten out the pitching, which was not good in this series, including Jake Arrieta’s start on Thursday. Arrieta lasted only 5.1 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) and nine hits — probably the biggest being a two-out double to pitcher John Lackey that plated two.
The Cubs starters are going to need to start going deeper in games. All too often this year, the starters have been unable to get through six innings. This has a ripple effect on the bullpen.
Starting pitching has been a relative strength for the Cubs the past couple years, so I’m confident they’ll be able to figure it out soon. And now that Jon Lester appears to be turning things around, that can only help.
One issue we saw last year that is creeping up this season is strikeouts. The Cubs struck out 12 times yesterday, and they have struck out at least 10 times in six of the last eight games, according to Carrie Muskat.
The Cubs have run into some bad luck with some bad umpiring behind the plate. Wednesday night was especially bad, with Joe Maddon even being tossed arguing calls to protect some of his young players.
The high strikeout totals will likely be pretty common all year. But it will be nice once the barrage of home runs begin, in order to off-set the strikeouts.
* Addison Russell singled in the third inning yesterday, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. After a slow start, he really seems to be putting things together at the plate — which obviously is great to see.
* RHP Justin Grimm made his season debut Thursday. He struck out the two batters he faced, but also threw a wild pitch allowing a run to score.
* The April 7 game against the Cardinals that was rained out (even though it never rained) will now be played as part of a day-night double-header on July 7. Game 1 starts at 12:20; game 2 at 7:05.