The Rundown: Cubs Awful in Atlanta Again, Worst Start Since 2012, Maddon Still not Worried, MLB Attendance Remains Down

I just don’t have the wherewithal to comment on another Cubs loss and I absolutely hate that I have to. I’ll allow the flailing Northsiders this: A nine-game road trip to start the season has the look and feel of an expanded spring training where everybody is more worried about finally getting home than finishing ballgames. The Cubs will be the last team in baseball to play a home game this season. It’s not going to be a good look if they field a one-win team riding an eight-game losing streak Monday against the Pirates.

If you haven’t read it yet, CI’s Laura Messer is spot-on regarding a number of Cubs that may need a stint in Triple-A Iowa to relocate their abilities to play at the major league level. Chief among that group is Carl Edwards Jr. I don’t know who architected the pitch sequencing in his four-batter appearance last night, but Edwards looked like a pitcher who wanted to be anywhere but the on the mound at SunTrust Stadium.

He gave up two runs on two walks without recording a single out. It took him just 11 pitches to earn that wretched line, which means that he threw just three pitches decent enough to get past an Atlanta hitter as a strike. Only two were swung at and only one was missed.

I question the decision by Joe Maddon to remove Yu Darvish from the game after just 71 pitches. I know he was in a no-out jam with runners on first and second and had just issued his fourth walk, but Quick Hook Joe should have allowed his starter to sink or swim at that point. Edwards spiked one pitch about 10 feet in front of home plate and threw another that nearly made it all the way to the back screen. Edwards’ remarkable effort was a perfect microcosm of the state of the Cubs’ pitching staff through six games.

Maddon still isn’t worried.

“I’ve been here before so its not heavy for me,” the skipper told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers. “We just have to get our bullpen in order.”

Alarmingly, the team continues to echo their manager’s laid-back attitude.

“It’s just the first week,” Darvish said. “We still have 156 games. Nothing to worry about.”

I disagree. Chicago will head to Milwaukee to play the red-hot Brewers trailing the reigning Central Division champs by 4.5 games. If Maddon continues to torpedo his team with bad decisions and poorly-timed hunches during the three-game set that starts this evening, the Cubs will arrive home securely entrenched in last place.

Cubs News & Notes

  • This is the Cubs’ first 1-5 start since 2012. The Cubs also fell four games below .500 for the first time since finishing 73-89 under Rick Renteria in 2014.
  • It’s a good bet that the Brewers are licking their chops with the struggling Cubs arriving in Milwaukee today.
  • Wins and losses now do not count any less than they do in August and September.
  • The Cubs could not retire Nick Markakis last night and it led to a career night for the Braves right fielder.
  • Chicago’s pitching struggles have now reached historic levels. How historic? Three of the four Cubs pitchers who threw Thursday actually lowered their ERA.

How About That!

Indians starter Trevor Bauer was pulled after 117 pitches and seven innings of no-hit ball against the Blue Jays last night. Freddy Galvis broke up the bid for Cleveland’s combined no-hitter with a lead-off single in the 9th inning.

The Mets’ travel plans were derailed by league-mandated, random drug tests following their game against the Marlins Wednesday night. New York arrived at 3am Thursday morning ahead of a 1pm tilt against the Nationals. The Mets lost their home opener 4-0.

Contract talks between free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel and the Braves have gone quiet, with no agreement in sight, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Wednesday via Twitter.

Should MLB suspend umpire Ron Kulpa for his untoward behavior the other night? Astros manager AJ Hinch said after the game that Houston would let the league sort it out.

Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is hitless in 21 plate appearances to start the season, including 11 strikeouts.

A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty is good at baseball.

Wednesday’s Three Stars

  • Nick Markakis – The Braves right fielder was 5-for-5 with 5 RBI, including three doubles, in the Braves’ 9-4 win over the Cubs.
  • Trevor Bauer – The often controversial and more-than-confident Indians starter held the Blue Jays hitless over seven innings with eight punchouts. He did issue six walks, however.
  • Stephen Piscotty – The A’s right fielder exploded for four hits, including a home run and a double, and five RBI in leading Oakland to a 7-3 victory over the Red Sox.

Extra Innings

Baseball attendance was down 4% last season and things aren’t looking any better this year, according to Maury Brown of Forbes. Going into yesterday’s games, there had been only one postponement all season. The Marlins and Blue Jays are the drivers when it comes to lack of fan interest so far this season. Through seven games, paid attendance has averaged 9,577 in Miami, including the announced 25,423 that attended Opening Day. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have seen a 10% drop from last season after one week.

They Said It

  • “We just got to get our bullpen in order. No question we got to play a more complete game of baseball, and we will. You keep believing in your guys, which I do. You trust your guys, which I do. And you play it out. It’s so early to worry about a whole bunch of different things. They need our support right now, and they’re going to get it. And I mean it.” – Joe Maddon
  • “It sucks, but that’s the beauty of this game. We get to come in tomorrow and write our own script.” – Anthony Rizzo
  • “There’s optimization to be done, but I’m going to have one of the top 10 changeups in baseball, a top-10 slider in baseball, a top-10 curveball in baseball. I’m going to throw above league average velocity. I’m going to post a mid-two ERA. I’m going to win the Cy Young in 2019. What else do I have to work on?” – Trevor Bauer

Friday Walk Up Song

Help Us, Somebody by Chris Thomas King. You probably know this performer better as Tommy Johnson, the guitarist who sold his soul to the devil in the Coen Brothers’ classic O Brother Where Art Thou? I’m not suggesting the Cubs make a similar deal, and I’d rather not insert a Tom Ricketts jab here, but they may need some otherworldly help to turn around this excruciating start to the season.

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