Before executives and fans start touting the ”next great Cubs team,” there’s the simple business of executing fundamentals properly and throwing strikes.
Or reading ”The Dodger Way to Play Baseball,” the title of a book written in 1954 that then-Brooklyn executives distributed to minor-league players to assist their development in becoming sound major-leaguers.
If facing three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw wasn’t ominous enough, the Cubs compounded their problems by getting swept by the Dodgers 7-0 and 6-2 in a day/night doubleheader Saturday at Wrigley Field.
”It’s really tough to watch, to be honest with you,” said catcher Willson Contreras, who waved his arms after hitting a home run in the second game to try to encourage his teammates. ”I know we’re trying our best to win some games, but things aren’t working our way. And the only thing we can control is the way we go about our business.”
Baserunning mistakes by Seiya Suzuki and Nico Hoerner in the first game enabled Kershaw to coast through seven innings.
The frustration swelled in the second game, as six pitchers limited the Dodgers to one hit through 82/3 innings. But four walks by Daniel Norris and Keegan Thompson in the second set up a three-run double by Mookie Betts, who added a two-run homer in the ninth as the Cubs’ losing streak reached four games.
”You give a good team like that nine walks, that’s going to be tough to win those type of games,” said manager David Ross, who also lamented the Cubs going hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
In the first game, Suzuki worked Kershaw for a walk in the first but was picked off to end the inning. Until this season, Suzuki, 27, had spent his entire career in Japan and had stolen 25 bases (in 41 attempts) for Hiroshima of the Japan Central League.
But Kershaw (4-0) caught Suzuki wandering too far off first with Patrick Wisdom at the plate.
Suzuki had watched videotape of Kershaw’s move but said: ”When you see it in person, it’s different.”
With two outs in the second, Hoerner legged out an infield hit and assumed the errant throw from shortstop Trea Turner had struck a camera in the photographer’s well, Ross said.
Hoerner assumed he would be awarded second base and started to trot in that direction. But first baseman Freddie Freeman retrieved the ball and threw to second, where second baseman Gavin Lux tagged Hoerner to end the inning.
Despite long-awaited blue skies, a gust blowing from the northeast presented challenges for the Cubs’ outfielders in Game 1. Cody Bellinger’s deep drive to left grazed off Wisdom’s glove at the warning track for a double, and Austin Barnes followed with a two-run single.
Freeman legged out a double in the first, and Michael Hermosillo’s throw from center field bounced away, enabling Betts to score.
Betts started the first game with an eight-pitch walk from left-hander Drew Smyly (1-3), who hadn’t pitched since April 28 and showed plenty of rust during a 38-pitch first.
Smyly said his routine was thrown out of whack while he spent time on the bereavement list, but he admitted: ”I just didn’t get the job done.”
Wisdom left after six innings in Game 2 with a bruised left ankle. X-rays were negative.
Betts’ homer in the ninth snapped closer David Robertson’s scoreless streak at 11 innings. Robertson had allowed one hit all season before Betts’ shot.