The Chicago Cubs’ losing streak reached 10 games Thursday with a 6-4 loss to the San Diego Padres before 30,096 on a sweltering afternoon at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs (23-40) tied for last place with the Cincinnati Reds in National League Central. And it doesn’t get any easier this weekend as the defending champion Atlanta Braves come to town on a 14-game winning streak.
Keegan Thompson will face Charlie Morton of the Braves on Friday in the series opener.
“We have to come back (Friday) and start a new stretch,” said closest David Robertson. “The Braves are coming to town. They are touched. They must lose one. We have to win one. I hope we can make it work.
The stumbling Cubs were outscored by a total of 49 points in back-to-back series by the New York Yankees (28-5) and Padres (41-15). According to Cubs historian Ed Hartig, this is the team’s worst run differential in consecutive series in franchise history, breaking a record set in 1999.
The 1999 Cubs were outscored by a combined 47 points by the Milwaukee Brewers (17 points) and Philadelphia Phillies (30) in back-to-back series in late June and early July. The Phillies have scored 41 points in three games, the most since the franchise’s inception in 1911.
When the Cubs lost 6-2 in the Finals in Philadelphia, keeping the Phillies under double digits was treated as a moral victory.
“It feels like we won,” general manager Ed Lynch said in the post-match club.
Perhaps Thursday’s moral victory was the fact that first baseman Frank Schwindel didn’t have to throw in relief, as he has done three times this season, including twice during the streak. 10 straight losses.
“Nobody wants to see that,” Schwindel said. “If I pitch three times in 10 days, it means things are not going well for us.”
The Cubs bullpen looks bad when a position player is forced to take the mound, and it’s no fun anymore when the same player has to end games because of the relievers.
“Obviously we don’t want to see Frank pitch unless we’re winning by a lot,” Robertson said.
Schwindel’s performance against the Yankees was even the subject of a joke on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
“I didn’t enjoy that one,” Schwindel said of Colbert. “I would like to see him do it.”
The Cubs’ loss to the Padres on Thursday — completing a four-game sweep — also means they’ve been outscored by at least 20 points in back-to-back series for the first time in 143 years, according to Hartig. The last time this happened was in September 1879, when the Providence Grays edged the Cubs by 20 points (29-9) and the Boston Braves by 23 points (31-8).
Manager David Ross has had three losing streaks of 10 or more games in the past year.
“This one, you feel a little bit more bitten with injuries,” Ross said. “We haven’t really been in some games here lately. … It gets out of hand very quickly if we don’t clean it up in the game. I try to forget about the ones I’ve had in the past.