Willson Contreras returned for the Chicago Cubs, but even he could not give the team the spark it needed during a poor weekend at the ball park that has put their hopes for reaching the postseason in question.
Heading into last weekend, Chicago held a 5-game lead over the second place Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central. After the Cubs lost on Sunday, their lead dropped to just two games, with just 19 games left on the schedule for both teams.
Joe Maddon the Chicago Cubs manager said that you must pitch better than opposing pitching and the Brewers were able to accomplish that. He added that his Cubs’ pitchers did well, but the offense could not string hits together and their power disappeared.
The Cubs starters and relievers pitched well and could have led to at least one victory and possibly two over the weekend. However, the offense only scored one run the entire weekend when it really counted and that was due to a misplayed ball by Milwaukee in right field.
Maddon used three lineups during the three-game series, and none was successful. The Cubs entered the weekend as the team with the most runs scored since returning from the All-Star break, but could not push enough across against the Brewers.
Maddon has attempted to use different combinations in his lineup throughout the season, which has caused some to request a set batting order.
However, Maddon has his reasons for making changes as players such as Ben Zobrist has struggled and Kyle Schwarber hardly played all weekend.
The hope is things might return to some semblance of normal with Contreras back in the lineup every day. On Sunday, he struck out as a pinch-hitter.
One player will rarely make that much difference, but having Contreras back in the cleanup spot will solidify the middle of the batting order.
However, the offensive problems the Cubs have might be bigger than just that.
Yes, the team has scored a large number of runs, but in August alone they had four games of 15 runs and in early September scored 14 versus Atlanta. Since that game, the offense has not produced, and looks like it did prior to the break.
Maddon remains positive saying that every team has it problems at some point in the season, just ask the Dodgers.
He knows the team will hit again, the big question is when and if it will be in time to hold onto its slim lead in the NL Central.