CUBS HIT THEIR 1ST BUMP IN THE ROAD
Team drops 3rd in row, series against Brewers before grueling stretch
Things have gone right for the Cubs more times than not in the first three weeks of the season, but they’re facing a little bit of adversity for the first time in 2020.
The Cubs lost right-hander Tyler Chatwood to the 10-day injured list Sunday, dropped three of four games against the Brewers and now face a stretch of eight games in seven days, which would be a challenge for any team.
‘‘We needed that one extra little bloop to maybe fall, and it’s a different story,’’ left-hander Jon Lester said after the Cubs’ 6-5 loss Sunday. ‘‘I felt like that was kinda the weekend for us, and that happens. I think it’s magnified with 60 games, but we show up tomorrow, we get back on the horse and try to get back into the ‘W’ column.’’
It was the extra-base hit that did Lester and the Cubs in. The Brewers were able to barrel up Lester’s cutter after he cruised through the first two innings, striking out three of the first six batters he faced.
Keston Hiura started the damage by crushing a 419-foot, threerun home run in the third after the Cubs had taken a 3-0 lead in the first. In the fifth, Lester allowed a leadoff triple to Luis Urias before Orlando Arcia followed by turning on a cutter about six inches off the plate for a two-run homer to give the Brewers a 5-3 lead.
‘‘I wasn’t surprised he got the bat head there; I was just surprised that he kept it fair,’’ Lester said. ‘‘When I saw it on a replay, I was like, ‘Gosh, I just don’t know how he kept it fair.’ Even the one where I gave up the three-run homer, I felt like that was a pretty decent pitch. You know, guys are good . ... I’d like to think that if I execute those pitches again, maybe I’ll get a different result.’’
The Brewers had four extrabase hits in six innings against Lester and five total. Four of the five came around to score, which proved to be the deciding factor in the game.
The Cubs’ offense scored five runs and showed other signs of life, including Nico Hoerner’s 13-pitch at-bat against closer Josh Hader in the ninth. They also had their struggles, striking out 53 times during the four-game series.
‘‘I think our approach has been good,’’ manager David Ross said. ‘‘We’re getting into a lot of deep counts. I just think some guys aren’t quite where they want to be and comfortable at the plate.
‘‘I think we’re just talking about having a plan within your approach. That’s the main thing . . . . I think these guys have bought into whatever the game plan is that day. There’s no real mantra that we’ve [had to] hit home. I think it’s about having your plan and trusting your plan.’’
The Cubs likely will find out a lot about themselves with a long, grueling week of games ahead.
‘‘I think this could be a pretty good test,’’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber said. ‘‘We’re gonna be playing a pretty good team [the Cardinals], but they had a little bit of a layoff [because of a COVID-19 outbreak]. I think this can be a test for us to be able to go out there and kind of show the guts . . . .
‘‘This isn’t ideal, playing five games in three days. I think that we’re all going to have a mindset to attack [it] each game at a time, and I think that you’re gonna see that out of everyone.’’
Manager David Ross chats with left-hander Jon Lester during the fifth inning Sunday against the Brewers.