For the third consecutive game against their crosstown rivals, the Cubs managed just four hits. And this time their manager was ejected while several players took issue with plate umpire Tom Woodring’s strike zone.
“We’re battling, we’re competing,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said after the game. “We’re not trying to show an umpire up, it’s emotion. We want to win.”
But right now the Cubs simply don’t have enough talent to win consistently, try as they might. And that’s when frustration can take over.
“It stemmed from the inning before,” Rizzo explained. “A really good pitch on one of their players and we didn’t get the call and they hit the three-run home run. Then a couple of pitches I don’t even need to say anything about.”
Rizzo was called out on strikes with men on base and the Cubs trailing only 4-3 at the time. They were questionable calls. And when a team -- especially an offensively challenged one -- is struggling, each injustice is magnified. The Sox could afford to have a call go against them on Wednesday; the Cubs could not.
“I thought we were going to be a little better, back on the track,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “We have to continue to get better at grinding out at-bats.”
All was not lost on offense Wednesday, except the good news had no effect on the Cubs game at U.S Cellular Field. Double-A stud prospect Kris Bryant hit two home runs and drove in six as he continues a hot start to his season. And Triple-A prospect Javier Baez had three hits for Iowa. For a rebuilding team, that’s the best news they could get. The Cubs could use that kind of production in Chicago in the worst way.
“We need to start hitting,” Rizzo said. “It’s contagious. Four hits is not enough to win a game at the big league level.”
For good measure, the Iowa Cubs also had a no-hitter thrown by sometimes big leaguer Chris Rusin. Major help isn’t on the way any time real soon, but at least that light at the end of the tunnel is still flickering. That is, if the Cubs can survive the frustration that is the current team.
“We’re going to have some highs and have some lows,” Renteria said. “They have to continue to know we believe in them and trust in their abilities. If I didn’t believe it, I wouldn’t say it.”
All you need to know about their frustrations is they didn’t come from the ejection of their manager or the confused look on Rizzo’s face after the bad calls. It came from the mild-mannered Cubs catcher.
After Welington Castillo struck out looking to end the sixth inning, he pointed at Woodring asking, “Where you got that one?” He pointed again when he didn’t get the answer he liked. Then he continued on his way. It was out of character, but the emotion took over. Losing will do that to you.
“I have to respect his word,” Castillo said. “I know where the strike zone is. I can’t control those things.”
And right now it seems the current Cubs can’t control the losses that are piling up.