Long before the rains and the walks arrived, manager Joe Maddon spoke of the difficulties that can come during the long grind of the regular season. But perhaps more than his words, Maddon’s choice of pregame fashion told the same story.
His T-shirt was emblazoned with his latest slogan, ‘‘Embrace the Suck.’’
The mantra, printed atop an image of his signature black-framed glasses, serves as a reminder that if the Cubs are to remain among baseball’s elite, they’re going to have to endure their share of adversity.
On Friday, the difficulties arrived in the form of 10 walks issued by the pitching staff in a 6-3, rain-soaked loss to the first-place Brewers at Wrigley Field.
The loss, which included a rain delay of 1 hour, 59 minutes, snapped a three-game winning streak and dropped the Cubs to 21-20.
“Today, it just wasn’t happening,” Maddon said. “The game was swung on the fact we weren’t able to throw strikes more consistently.”
Eddie Butler, making his second start with the Cubs, was Exhibit A. He struggled with his command throughout his three-plus innings, in which he gave up only three hits but walked five. He threw 92 pitches, including 40 in the first inning, when he surrendered three walks and gave up a two-out, two-run single to Jett Bandy.
Butler walked two more hitters before reliever Mike Montgomery entered and yielded three more walks in two innings. His final walk came in the fifth against pinch hitter Jesus Aguilar with the bases loaded, breaking a 3-3 tie.
“It’s unacceptable to do that out there,” Butler said. “I need to go out there and give them five innings and keep them in the game.”
The Cubs scored two runs in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead when they strung together singles by Anthony Rizzo, Ian Happ, Ben Zobrist and Willson Contreras against Brewers starter Paolo Espino, who was making his major-league debut.
The Cubs trailed by a run when umpires stopped the game in the sixth after left fielder Kyle Schwarber was charged with two errors on the same play.
Schwarber charged a windblown Jonathan Villar pop fly that kept blowing back toward shortstop Javy Baez. After the ball slipped out of his glove, Schwarber attempted to throw out Eric Thames at second base with a backhanded toss. The throw sailed wide, allowing Thames to advance to third and Villar to reach
“[The conditions] were tough, man. It’s tough, it’s dangerous. Anything can happen,” Baez said.
After the delay, Domingo Santana extended the Brewers’ lead with a two-run single. The Cubs never threatened after that, getting only two baserunners in the final four innings.
“Right now, I want our guys to understand we haven’t done our best work to this point, but that’s a good thing,” Maddon said. “[We have] to really stay focused and understand the better days are coming. More recently, we’ve had three good days, but it’s going to take a lot more than that to get to where we want to be.”
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