By Bruce Levine–
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The mystery of the Cubs’ dormant offense is on everyone’s mind as they face a 2-1 deficit to the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.
Chicago pitchers have been provided with little run support — and none in the past two games. Focusing on pitching a shutout is a little much for the teams’ starters to worry about while out on the hill.
“We have many guys in our lineup who can produce back to back to back,” right-hander Jake Arrieta said. “Four or five runs in one inning is not unique for us. We can put crooked numbers on the board. We have not been able to do that. We are very capable.”
The time to be polite about the situation is over with for now. The Cubs need to be willing to change their approach and make adjustments. Just getting on base — and forcing opposing pitchers to throw out of the stretch — is a key to the Cubs getting back into this series, as it could make the Dodgers pitchers feel more uncomfortable.
“We need to get things going a little bit more,” catcher Miguel Montero said. “We need to maybe take a walk, maybe play the little game — move the runners over, hit a ground ball to second base and get the runner home. Maybe a little small ball approach than trying to just hit homers. I feel like we are trying too hard. Look what he Dodgers did (Tuesday). They stole second base, got a base hit to right field and scored a run. They got things going just with that approach. Solo home runs allowed won’t kill you. Doing the little things, the little rallies, that is what kills the other team.”
Montero won’t be in the lineup in Game 4 to implement his idea as the Cubs face 20-year-old Dodgers rookie left-hander Julio Urias. Cubs manager Joe Maddon once again is faced with changing around the lineup and sitting the likes of slumping starters.
“We are going to see a new young guy we only faced a couple of times,” Maddon said. “You don’t need any more batting practice right now. You must push back mentally as much as anything right now. It is just about hard contact. We’re just not hitting the ball well. We aren’t striking them hard. It is more of a mental exercise than physical one right now.”
The Cubs have been shut out in back-to-back postseason games for the first time in franchise history.
“You really see it more in the playoffs — momentum shift,” said third baseman Kris Bryant, who had two of the team’s four hits in Game 3. “We saw the momentum change with one inning in San Francisco, so we need to get that on our side. That is where we need to be.”
In five tries, the Cubs have never won a postseason series when trailing 2-1. They’re hitting .161 in the NLCS, and only Bryant, Javier Baez and Dexter Fowler have more than one hit in the series.
“I just think we have to go at-bat to at-bat,” Baez said. “We just have to play the game like we normally do. We must try to do some little things. We beat them four times during the season. There is no pressure. We have only played three games. There is fun left. Remember these are the playoffs. Everybody on the mound is going to be good. We haven’t hit, but it’s coming.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.