After scoring one run — on a home run — for the third consecutive game Saturday night, manager Joe Maddon knows how fortunate the Cubs are to have won two of the first three games against the Pirates in this four-game series that concludes Sunday.
“We could be sitting 0-3 in this series just as well as we can be sitting 2-1,” Maddon said following a 3-1 loss in which Joe Musgrove held the Cubs to five hits in seven innings. “We’re very fortunate. We have to get the offensive mojo back, get back in that swarmy kind of thing.”
The Cubs’ problems were temporarily cured Wednesday in an 8-4 win over the Brewers in which they sprayed the ball to all fields to Maddon’s liking. But that has been an anomaly during a stretch in which they’ve scored three runs or fewer in six of their last nine games.
“Offensively we’ve got to get it together,” said Maddon, who was otherwise pleased with the defense, relief pitching and base running Saturday night.
But the offense continues to sputter. Ben Zobrist hit a home run to account for their only scoring, just as Ian Happ did Thursday and Kyle Schwarber on Friday in back-to-back 1-0 victories. Other than Zobrist, who is batting .394 since the All-Star break, no other Cubs have been consistent at the plate besides Anthony Rizzo — who struck out with Zobrist at second to end the eighth Saturday.
Addison Russell is 1-for-19, Willson Contreras is 5-for-30, Javier Baez is 4-for-29 and Schwarber is 7-for-37.
Maddon said Russell is still bothered by a sore knuckle on his left middle finger that the shortstop says he can tolerate, but “when he gets the pitch he likes, he fouls it off,” Maddon said.
“Schwarbs hit the home run (Friday), but we’ve got to get him more consistent,” Maddon said. “It’s just an inconsistency with the whole group.”