Cubs swept by Padres, extend season-high losing streak to 10 games

In the late innings of the Cubs’ series finale against the Padres Thursday, a stadium camera focussed on a group of fans holding a homemade banner that read: “We need a win to fly our new W flag.”

That flag will remain pristine at least a little while longer.

The Cubs’ 6-4 loss to the Padres on Thursday extended their losing streak to 10 games. It’s the Cubs’ third double-digit skid in the span of a year.

“Frustrating, obviously,” Hoyer said of the losing streak. “I feel like through Friday’s game, we battled incredibly well.”

Since then, however, most of their losses have been blowouts.

The Cubs’ three most recent double-digit losing streaks have come at different phases in the Cubs’ team-building cycle. The first 11-game skid last year, spanning late June and early July, solidified the Cubs as trade-deadline sellers as they plunged out of first place in the National League Central.

The Cubs were already heading into a transition phase, after trading ace Yu Davish over the winter and with Anthony Rizzo, Javy B?ez and Kris Bryant all hurtling toward free agency. But the losing streak essentially set the stopwatch for the coming rebuild.

The next double-digit losing streak made last season historic, in a rather grim way. The team had just been through a major upheaval, most of the Cubs’ championship core replaced with players fighting for a shot to stick in the big-leagues.

Schwidsom-mania would rally fans around the new group by the end of the year. But first, the Cubs lost 12 straight games in August. It was the first time in franchise history that the Cubs had recorded two losing streaks of 11-plus games.

The Cubs added key pieces this offseason, including starting pitchers Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley, right fielder Seiya Suzuki and plenty of veteran relievers. So, the team should be better than the second half of last year. But here they are again.

Part of this dismal spell can be chalked up to injuries. Stroman, Miley and Suzuki are all on the IL, along with starting pitcher Drew Smyly and second baseman Nick Madrigal, to name a few.

“Injuries can never be an excuse,” Hoyer said. “Everyone deals with them. And so I think it’s sort of a loser’s mentality. To me, it’s like complaining about umpires. That doesn’t really do you any good.

“That said, I do think that the stabilizing effect of those starting pitchers is real.”

A lot of the rest comes down to the Cubs’ roster-building approach and how early the club is in its rebuilding process.

In the Cubs’ last rebuild, Hoyer and his predecessor Theo Epstein delivered on their promise of a championship, in exchange for a few 60- to 75-win seasons.

“You can’t pretend that those first three years weren’t really difficult emotionally, you know?” Hoyer said. “And so sometimes when something ends up being a real positive, you kind of sugarcoat what the experience was like [to get there]. So, I’ve had a lot of those thoughts, trying to remember back to how I actually felt at that point.”

Considering Hoyer’s track record, when he says, “I have all the confidence in the world that we’re going to get there,” it’s nothing to scoff at. But how many losing seasons will it take this time? This year’s team doesn’t seem to be built with a 2022 championship in mind, through no fault of the players.

After the Cubs’ blowout loss Wednesday, Cubs manager David Ross highlighted left fielder Ian Happ’s ninth-inning catch. The Cubs were trailing by double digits. First baseman Frank Schwindel was on the mound.

“It [would have been] easy in that kind of game to just jog,” Ross said, “and he’s almost running into that wall trying to catch a ball. … That says a lot about the character that he has and the character of this group. They continue to chase balls down when it would be easy to let them drop.”

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