The Chicago Cubs have been a staple of “Sunday Evening Baseball” telecasts for years, thanks partially to a star-studded lineup, a nationwide following and the photogenic ballpark they name residence.
Wrigley Subject seems pretty much as good as ever, and followers nonetheless end up in droves if the climate is sweet and the beer is chilly.
However Sunday evening’s ESPN sport towards the Los Angeles Dodgers could possibly be one of many Cubs’ last appearances in 2022 the best way their season is trending.
There are solely so some ways to speak about Wrigley earlier than admitting the plain: The Cubs aren’t prepared for prime time.
The Dodgers swept the Cubs by scores of 7-0 and 6-2 in a cut up doubleheader Saturday, leaving them with 4 straight losses and 13 of their final 16 video games.
Clayton Kershaw dominated the Cubs with seven shutout innings within the opener earlier than the Dodgers received the nightcap with solely three hits, together with Mookie Betts’ bases-clearing double within the second off Keegan Thompson and his two-run homer off David Robertson within the ninth.
Cubs pitchers issued 9 walks within the nightcap, together with 5 by starter Daniel Norris and Thompson in the course of the Dodgers’ four-run second. The Cubs fell to eight video games underneath .500 at 9-17.
They’ve a .341 successful share (42-81) since June 14, 2021, selecting up the place they left off final season.
After a time without work Thursday and Friday’s postponement, the solar lastly got here out at Wrigley on a cold Saturday afternoon, so it wasn’t a complete loss for the introduced crowd of 37,594 — aided by a big contingent of Dodgers followers.
Even Dodger-hating Cubs followers ought to have been glad for the chance to look at the 34-year-old Kershaw, a future Corridor of Famer, defy his age with one other dominant efficiency.
“Sooner or later you’re feeling just like the ball will bounce our method or a few of these balls will fall in,” stated supervisor David Ross, who pointed to a number of hard-hit balls off the Dodgers veteran.
Maybe, however Kershaw scattered 5 hits over seven shutout innings to enhance to 4-0. He has a 1.00 ERA over his final three begins and is one among solely three starters this season with 30 or extra strikeouts and three or fewer walks.
Hitting apart, baserunning gaffes by the Cubs additionally have been on show early within the opener.
“Making outs on the bases, we will’t do this whenever you’re dealing with a great pitcher like that,” Ross stated.
After Kershaw picked Seiya Suzuki off first base to finish the primary inning, Nico Hoerner was tagged out chugging into second base to finish the second. After reaching on an infield hit, Hoerner apparently believed the errant throw went right into a digicam nicely and bounced again, entitling him to a free base. Ross stated Hoerner ought to’ve waited for the umpire to make the decision.
“Simply a kind of powerful classes,” Ross stated.
Drew Smyly lasted 4⅓ innings within the opener, permitting two earned runs on six hits and 4 walks in his return from the bereavement listing. Command points within the first put the Cubs in a fast gap, and his solely different mistake was a fourth-inning residence run by Austin Barnes.
Ross stated Smyly threw “extraordinarily nicely,” however Smyly conceded he “wasn’t very sharp as we speak … and threw a ton of pitches” within the first.
“That’s most likely the worst staff to face whenever you’re not being aggressive within the zone and attacking,” Smyly stated. “They don’t actually chase.”
Ross acknowledged earlier than the sport that Cubs starters collectively haven’t pitched to their potential, however he nonetheless believes they will develop into “a strong pitching workers if we proceed on the trajectory we’re on.”
However the Cubs now not can use the excuse of a brief spring coaching to elucidate their 5.16 ERA coming into the day or the shortage of high quality begins. Cubs starters have lasted 5 or extra innings in solely 9 of the primary 26 video games after Norris went 1⅓ innings because the “opener” within the nightcap. The one starters who’ve thrown greater than 5 innings are Marcus Stroman (twice) and Kyle Hendricks (thrice).
Justin Steele, who compiled a 9.35 ERA over his final three begins and did not final greater than three innings in any of them, was pushed again to Monday evening’s sport in San Diego. The Cubs have solely 4 starters on the roster, although Ross stated the Steele transfer “was a product of how our roster is formed.”
Wade Miley stated he would throw a bullpen session Sunday after pitching 4 scoreless innings Thursday in a rehab begin for Triple-A Iowa. Miley could possibly be prepared to affix the staff on the upcoming journey to San Diego and Arizona.
It received’t save the season. However at this level, the Cubs can use all the assistance they will get.
“It takes loads to win a sport,” Smyly stated. “They’re by no means simple.”
And it’s tougher than ever for the Cubs.