By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — On Friday, the Cubs were held to three hits losing their third straight game. Saturday looked like more of the same with a few different twists. The return to the leadoff spot for Kyle Schwarber and shortstop Addison Russell’s trek back to the lineup added to the drama of the day, but the results were the same as the Cubs fell 9-1 to the Rockies.
It was Chicago’s fourth straight loss, and it once again featured an offense that can’t find a way to get itself together. The Cubs had just five hits in falling below .500 at 30-31.
“You go through spells where you don’t feel good,” third baseman Kris Bryant said of the collective offensive collapse. “This as a team is probably the lowest point since I have been here. It is not that bad in context to the division. No one has really taken advantage of it, like in some other divisions out there.”
Both Schwarber and Russell have struggled with the bat all season long. In the case of Schwarber, the return to the leadoff spot didn’t generate any new results, as he went 0-for-4 and is amid a 9-of-78 slump. Russell was just happy to be back playing ball again after a domestic abuse allegation against him surfaced Wednesday night. He’s denied the claim and started Saturday after sitting out the past three games.
The inconsistent path of the Cubs on Saturday saw them be one-hit through six innings by Rockies right-hander Jeff Hoffman. Jason Heyward and Albert Almora had back-to-back singles with one out in the sixth before a Willson Contreras base hit plated Heyward with the Cubs’ lone run. Russell’s day was over when Ian Happ pinch hit for him after the Contreras RBI single.
Russell is in a 1-of-16 slump. He played error-free on defense, despite having a couple of adventurous moments that led to umpire challenges. Both challenges went the Cubs’ way. A throw off of the mark to first pulled temporary first baseman Ben Zobrist off of the bag. Zobrist made a swipe tag as the umpire at first ruled the runner safe. The review turned the decision around.
Russell also fielded a ground ball in the sixth that he had trouble deciding what to do with. He eventually stepped on second base for a forceout attempt with the runner initially ruled safe before the review overturned it.
The Cubs have scored only 48 runs in their last 15 games.
“We are going to hit,” Bryant said. “You are who you are as a baseball player. You are not going to greatly exceed your expectations and you are not going to stink. I think at the end of the year everything works out. It is a matter of us all doing it together. We can’t panic. If we panic, we can’t play the way we can.
“You will grip the bat tighter and the ball tighter, that is when you really mess up. It is OK for the fans to worry. That is just natural. People don’t have control of what we do. We do have the control. It is up to us to work harder. We need to do that together.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.