Freak Out if You Want, Just Don’t Expect Cubs To

“This is just more of it to test us and see what we’re made of,” Kyle Hendricks explained after Sunday’s loss. “We’ve come out on the good side of it in the past, so it’s a good track record to move forward with. But it doesn’t guarantee anything.”

So, yeah, that’s one way to look at the Cubs’ not-great performance over the last week or so. Or we could just dispense with any soft-playing it and say that they’ve resembled a flaming chemical spill that ignited a nearby landfill. Hot garbage, indeed.

The heat from said blaze melted what had been a five-game division lead down to just two, with several games against the Cardinals and Brewers left to play. It’s a pretty precarious position, particularly for fans who had expected this season to be something of a walkover, but that’s all a matter of perspective.

While dropping three games in dubious fashion to a rival is never a good thing, at least the Cubs had enough of a lead that they could absorb the losses and still remain on top. That’s a very small victory, sure, but it’s one more than the Cubs had against the Brewers this past weekend.

As for the Cubs themselves, they’re not really scoreboard-watching or counting magic numbers as they head down the stretch. All they need to do, all they can do, is to follow LaVar Ball’s misguided advice and stay in their lane.

“We’re focused on the field, what needs to be done, pitch to pitch,”Hendricks said. “That’s really where our focus is and where it’s stayed. So two games, five games, whatever it is, it is. We have to win ballgames down the stretch. Period.”

Maybe the Cubs need to bring in the sports psychologist from The Natural to wake the players from their funk and get them in the proper frame of mind. You know the guy, the one who told the Knights that losing is a disease. From the sound of it, maybe they already have.

“If you look around baseball, it happens to every team at some point,” Joe Maddon said. “It’s contagious to hit as well as it is contagious to not hit. You got to just keep working your way through it. It’s going to come back to us. We’re going to start hitting again.”

Yeah, about that. I have no doubt the Cubs will indeed start hitting again, though I’m somewhat perplexed by what seems to be a willful opposition to generating more runs. But no one player, not even Anthony Rizzo or Kris Bryant, can break the team out of this offensive funk. So what happened?

“Nothing happened,” Jason Heyward opined. “Baseball happened.”

Okay, well, that’s actually super contradictory, but whatever. Perhaps it’d be more appropriate to say that baseball didn’t happen, at least not good baseball. Tuesday is a new day, though, and the Cubs will have a chance to right the ship against the Mets starting Tuesday. Then it’s going to get really interesting, as 10 of their following 13 games come against the Cardinals and Brewers.

Step away from the ledge (or don’t) and hold on to your butts, it’s gonna be a wild ride.

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