Chicago Cubs finally come out with runners in scoring position in 10-4 win before tough stretch

Every day over the past two weeks, the Chicago Cubs have endured an equally painful offensive performance.

Lots of base hitters, but the runs failed to follow consistently. The Cubs entered Wednesday’s series finale against the St. Louis Cardinals, holding six losses by one run and three by two runs in that span. All winnable games backed by one of the best rotations in the majors.

President of baseball operations Jed Hoyer attributed the Cubs’ offensive shortcomings, particularly with runners in scoring position, to the inherent randomness that comes with a season, “but it doesn’t mean when you’re going through it you’re not looking. for answers.”

“When you look at our underlying numbers, there’s a lot of things to take a lot of confidence from,” Hoyer said Wednesday. “But it is a business with results. I didn’t win the games. I lost a lot of matches. … We just couldn’t get the big hit.

“That’s the biggest frustration in all of this is whenever you play all those close games, it means somebody gave up a run at some point. Our launch was fantastic. The run prevention was fantastic. We just didn’t get any big hits.”

The Cubs finally broke out in a big way Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.

They turned a two-run deficit entering the bottom of the third into a seven-run lead heading into the seventh thanks to the timely hitting that had eluded the offense the previous two weeks. They put 20 runners on base in a 10-4 win over the Cardinals, scoring double-digit runs for the seventh time this season.

The Cubs’ futility with runners in scoring position fueled an anemic nine-game losing streak in 12 games since April 28. They entered Wednesday’s game hitting .180 (20-for-111) with RISP in that span, leaving 98 runners on base.

Everything clicked in their bullpen against left-hander Jordan Montgomery and the Cardinals bullpen to avoid a sweep. The Cubs (18-19) finished 6-for-14 with RISP and erased the Cardinals’ early two-run RBI lead from Seiya Suzuki (double) and Patrick Wisdom (two-run homer).

“We weren’t panicking, in a way, but we understood what we had to get back to,” Wisdom said. “And that means being true to who we are as up-and-down hitters and knowing what we’re capable of.”

Six Cubs recorded at least one extra-base hit, including Dansby Swanson’s two-run double and Yan Gomes’ two-run homer in his first game off the concussion injured list. Left-hander Justin Steele again produced a quality start, allowing three runs in six innings.

“We’ll take that style of victory any day,” Gomes said. “But what is consistent is our ability to put guys on, to keep putting pressure. If we stick with him, hits will come. Today the hits came. … This game is contagious. Timing is a big thing, so hopefully it will go that way now.”

An offensive regression was inevitable after providing the second-best production through the first three weeks of the season. The recent cold snap has provided a good test for a collectively unproven Cubs team.

Veteran offseason additions have plenty of experience during these types of stretches. Learning how to pass together, maintaining their respective approaches and not trying to do too much in big moments could all pay off in September, when a postseason appearance could be on the line.

Manager David Ross believes confidence was not waning within the club.

“If you really start to dig deep, what we do when you’re in these moments, like, what’s the difference, what’s holding us back, and you start looking, there are some things that we identified that were outliers ,” Ross said, referring to ground balls that lead to double plays. “But the offense was pretty much the same as we’ve had before.”

The Cubs were unable to take advantage of a shaky Cardinals team this week, though they avoided the worst-case scenario and regrouped ahead of Thursday’s off day.

A challenging three-city, nine-game road trip awaits against the Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies. Triggers a potential month-long glove in the 162-game schedule. The next nine games feature the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays before the Cubs embark on another three-city trip, this time to California, where they will face the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants.

Major League Baseball’s balanced schedule creates fewer opportunities to make up ground — or build a lead — in the division over the course of the season. The Cubs won’t face the Cardinals again until their two-game series in London the last week of June. After opening the season against the Milwaukee Brewers, their next series won’t arrive until July 3, the week leading up to the All-Star break. The Cubs won’t even face the Pittsburgh Pirates for the first time until June 13th.

As important as it is not to overreact to one run, the Cubs couldn’t and didn’t let Wednesday’s opportunity to get back in the win column slip away.

“I feel a lot of comfort in the basics,” Hoyer said, “but ultimately we’ve got to start scoring runs at the right times and start winning games.”


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