MLB Hoosiers (Sept. 24): Kyle Schwarber Goes 0-for-4 as Cubs' Bats Remain Silent
Momentum really is a thing in baseball, and right now Kyle Schwarber and the Chicago Cubs don't have any of it.
The Cubs lost 7-0 to the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, getting only two hits against the team with the worst record in baseball. Chicago lost three of four games in Pittsburgh, and in the three losses, they scored a total of only three runs and had just 12 hits.
Against the worst team in baseball.
Schwarber's struggles continued. The former Indiana star went 0-for-4 on Thursday night. He did have two hits in the series opener on Monday, a day after getting benched by manager David Ross for not hustling after a fly ball, but that was his highlight of the series. In the three losses, he was 0-for-10, and his batting average is now down to .187.
That number sounds bad, but this one sounds even worse. Since Sept. 5, Schwarber is just 4-for-54, a brutal .074 batting average over 19 games, basically a third of the season. He hasn't hit a home run since Sept. 1.
Schwarber isn't the only Cubs star who's struggling. All-stars Kris Bryant (.195), Javier Baez (.196) and Anthony Rizzo (.227) have all had bad years and despite that, the Cubs are still in first place in the NL Central.
“The only way to get confidence is through results,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “You can talk, you can work. But these guys have got to believe in themselves.
"I believe in them. I’ve seen them do some special things. I have confidence in them. We’ve just got to flush this game, and move on.
The Cubs have a 2.5-game lead on the St. Louis Cardinals, and only need one more win or a Cardinals loss to clinch the division and the No. 3 seed in the NL playoffs. They had several chance to clinch in Pittsburgh and never got it done. Now they finish the season with three games against their crosstown rivals, the Chicago White Sox.
“These are games and teams we should be beating,” Kipnis said after the Cubs were held to three earned runs by Pirates starters. “I don’t have to sugarcoat it. We know that. We know we were the better team but we didn’t play it like that.”
It's going to be an interesting weekend on the south side of Chicago. The White Sox are struggling too, having lost five in a row, and they are still trying to win the American League Central. With the playoffs starting on Tuesday, both teams will be looking to turn things around.
Other 'Hoosiers in the Pros' on Wednesday
- Alex Dickerson, San Francisco Giants: Dickerson was 1-for-5 with a double in the Giants' 5-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies in 11 innings. It was a tough loss for the Giants, who blew a three-run lead. They are now 28-28, and are clinging to the final playoff spot in the National League, a half-game ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies and one game ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers.
- Caleb Baragar, San Francisco Giants: Baragar faced two batters in the 10th inning, and got two strikeouts to keep the Giants in the game. It was his 15th consecutive appearance without allowing a run.
- Jonathan Stiever, Chicago White Sox: Stiever did not pitch in Chicago's 5-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians, their fifth loss in a row and fourth in a row to the Indians. Chicago is 34-23 and one game behind the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central. Cleveland is suddenly just two behind with three games to go. The White Sox finish the season at home agains their crosstown rivals, the Chicago Cubs.
- Aaron Slegers, Tampa Bay Rays: Slegers and the Rays had the day off and will finish the regular season at home with a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies. ' The Rays have the best record (37-20) in the AL, and are two games ahead of the Minnesota Twins for the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs.
- * Kyle Hart, Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox placed Hart on the 45-day injury list on Tuesday, so his season is done with Boston. He struggled in his major-league debut, appearing in four games — three starts — but allowing 19 runs and 24 hits in just 11 innings.
- * Josh Phegley, Chicago Cubs: Phegley was designated for assignment by the Cubs and was sent to their alternate site on Sept. 3.
If the playoffs started today ...
After Wednesday night's games, there were a whopping six changes among the 16 teams, and after Thursday, there were four more. The first round is a best-of-three series, playing at the home ballpark of the higher seed. The final weekend of the regular is going to be a wild mad dash, with spots and seeds all on the line.
Here's what the playoff bracket would look like as of Thursday morning.
- No. 1 Tampa Bay Rays vs. No. 8 Toronto Blue Jays
- No. 4 Chicago White Sox vs. No. 5 New York Yankees
- No. 3 Oakland A's vs. No. 6 Houston Astros
- No. 2 Minnesota Twins vs. No. 7 Cleveland Indians
- No. 1 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. No. 8 San Francisco Giants
- No. 4 San Diego Padres vs. No. 5 St. Louis Cardinals
- No. 3 Chicago Cubs vs. No. 6 Miami Marlins
- No. 2 Atlanta Braves vs. No. 7 Cincinnati Reds