Momma Said There’d Be Offensive Stretches Like This and Other Bullets

joe maddon cubsThe Brewers haven’t won a series yet this year. Just pointing that out today in advance of the rubber match this afternoon …

  • It’s no surprise that, when your team strikes out 18 times in a 9-inning game, you’re not going to score many runs. The Cubs have scored just three runs in their last 31 innings, which is the kind of stretch we always have expected with a young offense that has a lot of swing and miss potential. Sometimes, the offense will look unstoppable (we’ve seen that), and sometimes it will look like this. The idea, though, is to just keep doing the same thing you’re doing. Don’t press. Don’t take unnecessary chances on the basepaths. The hits will come, and they’ll cluster. The power will come. In the meantime, a good approach at the plate means that the walks will keep coming and the opposing pitchers will have to work. That’ll help make some good things happen even when the bats aren’t clubbing the ball regularly.
  • The nice thing: I have complete confidence that Joe Maddon is the right guy to carry that message forward with this team, smoothing out the highs and lows.
  • Yesterday’s whiff-fest moved the Cubs comfortably into the strikeout “lead” in baseball – their 25.1% K rate as a team is worst in the league.
  • Joe Maddon said that moving Jorge Soler to the leadoff spot yesterday was indeed entirely about shifting Soler’s mindset (CSN). For a guy who’d been swinging and missing at far too many pitches low and away, it seemed like a good idea – don’t mess with his mechanics, just get him thinking about getting on base. Soler spit on a couple of those pitches yesterday, and wound up with a good day – he walked once, lined out to left, singled to center, and struck out once. The only rub on the strikeout was that it, yes, came on a breaking pitch low and away. Mike Fiers did that to a lot of Cubs yesterday, though. We’ll see if Soler leading off was a one-time thing, or if he’ll get a few days there.
  • I’m inclined to give the same kind of pass to Kris Bryant, who struck out four times yesterday and looked overmatched and out-guessed (not unlike his debut against James Shields). I’m assuming that, with lots of advanced scouting in the books at this point, the Brewers had a sequencing and location game plan against Bryant (probably over the course of multiple at bats) designed to take advantage of perceived weaknesses. All teams try to do that with all batters, of course. The difference yesterday was that (1) Bryant’s still young, hasn’t seen these pitchers before, and hasn’t made that next adjustment yet, and (2) Brewers pitchers clearly executed that plan perfectly. You won’t always have number two, but, when you do, it can mean a four strikeout day. Today is another day.
  • Yesterday’s scary moment – other than the loss, itself, and the ugly play at the end – came on a shallow blooper to the right side that neither Anthony Rizzo nor Addison Russell could call for, and they went near full speed into each other on a dive as the ball fell to the ground. You can see the play here if you missed it. Thankfully, both guys stayed in the game and said they were fine after (Cubs.com). I’d be surprised if they aren’t sore today, though – especially Russell, who’s head and neck bent awkwardly as he went end over end. Thankfully they’re both young and in good shape.
  • Jake Arrieta made an interesting point about his start yesterday. When noting that the Brewers had strung a bunch of bloops together in the second inning to plate a couple runs – which they did – Arrieta mentioned that he was leaving the ball up too much (Cubs.com). I’m not sure if he was connecting those two things or not, but it got me wondering: I suppose it’s true that it’s a lot harder to get a blooper on a pitch down in the zone, but can you really be blamed for giving up bloops because you were up in the zone? Instead, the reason you don’t want to be up in the zone is because those are the pitches that can be punished more easily for serious damage. That’s not quite what happened – so you could argue that, even if Arrieta was missing his target up, the Brewers still weren’t putting good wood on it (except for Ryan Braun’s first inning homer). I don’t really have an answer here – I just thought it was an interesting thing to think about. I tend to think Arrieta wasn’t really all that bad yesterday.
  • If you missed it this morning, Luke got into some of the best video from the first month of minor league action, including two that just happened yesterday for the Smokies: Kyle Schwarber homering and Dan Vogelbach tripling.
  • When you wear a BN shirt, tropical paradise just springs up around you:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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